Genetic screening could improve breast cancer prevention


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). 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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