Background: Two recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) identified five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; rs965513, rs944289, rs966423, rs2439302, and rs116909374) associated with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Each variant showed highly significant but moderate to low disease risk. Here we assessed the cumulative risk and predictive value of the five SNPs.
Methods: We genotyped two cohorts of individuals, 747 PTC cases and 1047 controls from Ohio and 1795 PTC cases and 2090 controls from Poland. Cumulative genetic risk scores were calculated using unweighted and weighted approaches.
Results: All five SNPs showed significant association with PTC. The average cumulative risk score in cases was significantly higher than in controls (p<2.2×10(-16)). Each additional risk allele increased the risk of having PTC by 1.51 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4, 1.64] in Ohio and by 1.35 [95% CI 1.27, 1.44] in Poland. An analysis was performed weighing risk alleles by effect size and assigning individuals to three weighted risk score groups, low (≤2), medium (2-5), and high (>5). Individuals in the high group were significantly more susceptible to PTC compared with individuals in the low group with an odds ratio of 8.7 [95% CI 5.8, 13.3] in Ohio and 4.24 [95% CI 3.10, 5.84] in Poland. Almost identical results were obtained when follicular variant PTCs and microPTCs were omitted. These five SNPs explained 11% of the familial risk of thyroid cancer in the Ohio cohort and 6% in the Polish cohort.
Conclusion: As the genetic risk score increases, the risk of having PTC increases. However, the predictive power of the cumulative effect of these five variants is only moderately high and clinical use may not be feasible until more variants are detected.