Genetic screening could improve breast cancer prevention

10/04/2015

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A test for a wide range of genetic risk factors could improve doctors’ ability to work out which women are at increased risk of developing breast cancer, a major study of more than 65,000 women has shown.

 

Breast cancer genes are rarely out of the news, but we’ve now reached a crucial stage at which all this research can be combined to help target screening and advice to those women who need them the most.
  -  Doug Easton

Improving the accuracy of risk analysis using genetic screening could guide breast cancer prevention in several ways – for instance by offering high-risk women increased monitoring, personalised advice and preventative therapies.

The research, a collaboration of hundreds of research institutions led by the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Cancer Research, London, showed that a test for differences in 77 separate letters of DNA code could indicate a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The study, the most definitive of its type conducted so far, was funded by a range of organisations including Cancer Research UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and is published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers came up with a ‘score’ for each woman based on the letters they had in each of the 77 positions of their DNA code, using one of the world’s biggest databases of genetic information – called the Collaborative Oncological Gene-Environment Study (COGS).

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Image: Color-enhancement shows magnetic resonance image (MRI) of individual breast
Credit: Dr Steven Harmes. Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas Texas


Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge
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