Professor Douglas Easton
Professor Douglas Easton is part of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Cancer Centre. He’s interested in how genes affect a person’s susceptibility to certain cancers – breast, ovarian and prostate.
Some cases are caused by changes in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which normally help repair damage to our DNA and, if faulty, can raise the risk of cancer. But many more cases are caused by small genetic changes, called SNPs, which affect single ‘letters’ of the DNA code. Professor Easton has identified several hundred of these changes. Together, these SNPs can be used to determine a person’s risk of cancer. This information could help clinicians decide how individuals should be screened for cancer.
On top of that, Prof Easton is looking at whether other risk factors, such as lifestyle, could also affect the likelihood that a person with these genetic faults develops cancer. Such information is important because it can help people make lifestyle decisions that could reduce their risk of cancer.