Scientists closer to developing breast cancer risk test

Scientists closer to developing breast cancer risk test

The new discoveries add to previous research, bringing the total number of known genetic patterns associated with breast cancer to almost 180.

Professor Chenevix-Trench said the inherited component of breast cancer risk was because of a combination of rare variants in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 which indicated a high risk of the disease, and genetic mutations which only contributed to a small risk.

Mutations in these genes prevent them from repairing changes in other sections of DNA in breast tissue, raising the risk of further mutation. "A better understanding of the biological basis of oestrogen receptor negative breast cancer may lead to more effective preventive interventions and treatments".

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Now, said: 'This is another exciting step forward in our understanding of the genetic causes of breast cancer.

A further seven genes were identified specifically in association with breast cancers that lacked oestrogen receptors, which don't tend to respond to hormone based therapies. "Imagine if we could, instead of giving chemotherapy, that not only hits the cancer, but every cell in the body, imagine if we could just give something that targets the cancer, wherever it may be, breast or otherwise", says Dr. Eng.

Rutkowski's research suggests that manipulating the microbiome may lead to better outcomes in patients with breast cancer.

However most of the new variants found were in gene-regulating regions.

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The QIMR study, which analysed data from more than 250,000 women around the world, found the risk-prone genetic variants are not linked to any physical characteristics. But because they are common and their effects multiply together, the combined effect is considerable.

However the discovery of 73 new genes not known about previously now put the total contribution of our genes to a breast cancer diagnosis at 18 per cent.

It will be the nation's first ever coin program promoting breast cancer awareness, and is the first coin the U.S. Mint will issue in "pink gold" in recognition of the color most closely associated with the fight against breast cancer.

The more of these variants a woman carries, the greater their risk of developing breast cancer, says Ass Prof Milne.

"That's pretty substantial and I think that in time, it will start impacting on when women will start having their screening". In many countries, women are offered screening by mammography from age 50; women at increased risk because of a family history can be offered screening earlier, and those at particularly high risk can be offered screening by MRI, which is more sensitive.

"That probably fits with the fact that shift work is a small risk factor for breast cancer".

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