Washington: A gene that increases the risk of pancreatic cancer has been identified, experts say. Mutations in the ATM gene may increase the hereditary risk for pancreatic cancer, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University have found. The findings were published in the latest edition of the journal Cancer Discovery.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most morbid cancers, with less than five percent of those diagnosed with the disease surviving to five years.

Approximately 10 percent of patients come from families with multiple cases of pancreatic cancer.

“There was significant reason to believe this clustering was due to genetics, but we had not, to this point, been able to find the causative genes that explained the cluster of pancreatic cancer for a majority of these families,” Xinhua quoted lead author Alison Klein, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, as saying.

Klein and colleagues identified ATM gene mutations in two kindreds with familial pancreatic cancer.

He said knowledge of the presence of the ATM gene could lead to better screening for pancreatic cancer, the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death.