watch your nails, they may indicate a predisposition

watch your nails, they may indicate a predisposition
watch your nails, they may indicate a predisposition

What’s new in the genetic predisposition to cancer. American researchers, led by the American Department of Health, published the results of their work in May 2024 in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology and it seems that a nail lesion is associated to a mutation in the BAP1 gene, which normally acts as a tumor suppressor.

This mutation causes a rare hereditary disease, BAP1 tumor predisposition syndrome which increases the risk of tumors.

Among the cancers whose risk increases due to the BAP1 mutation, Orphanet, the portal on rare diseases lists: “Le uveal melanoma, malignant mesothelioma, renal cell carcinoma, lung, ovarian, pancreatic and breast cancer, as well as meningioma, with variable age of onset. Commonly observed cutaneous manifestations include malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and intradermal melanocytic tumors.

Typical striations on the nail

It was somewhat by chance that researchers detected a particularity in their nails in people carrying this genetic mutation. “When asked about nail health during a basic genetic evaluation, one very astute patient reported that he noticed subtle changes in his nails“, said co-senior author and genetic counselor Alexandra Lebensohn of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the US Department of Health.

Intrigued, the researchers therefore controlled the appearance of the nails of other participants in the evaluationall carriers of tumor predisposition syndrome.

Result ? 88% of people over 30 years old carrying the BAP1 genetic mutation presented these same nail lesions, on several fingers, whereas this type of lesion normally only affects one finger.

What do these nail lesions look like?

This anomaly is actually a benign tumor called onychopapillome which is distinguished by a mark along the length of the nail (usually white or red) as well as a thickening at the tip.

This discovery is very interesting, because the researchers explain that we can therefore consider identify people carrying the mutation BPA1 genetics in the blink of an eye, just by looking at their nails!

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