Scientists have identified genetic factors likely to influence the development of testicular cancer, paving the way for improved cancer treatment.
The breakthrough, which has been written up in the journal Nature Genetics, was made by a team working at the Institute of Cancer Research.
They found that men who inherited three specific genetic variants, including KITLG, which is known to influence skin pigmentation, are between two and three times more likely to develop testicular cancer than those men who do not have such genes present.
Announcing the findings, Professor Mike Stratton, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which also contributed to the research, said: "By combining these genetic risks with other known risk factors it may be possible in future to identify men who are at high risk of developing testicular cancer, particularly those who have a brother or father already affected by the disease.
"This may allow early detection or prevention," he added.
At present, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer seen in British men below the age of 44, though 99 per cent of cases can be cured if the condition is caught early enough.
Independent advice on private healthcare