Test for cancer risk may reduce pre-emptive mastectomies

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A genetic test that accurately predicts the risk of developing breast cancer could soon be used on high-risk groups in the UK, reports The Guardian. Researchers behind the test say it could reduce the number of women choosing pre-emptive mastectomy surgery as they will be able to make more informed decisions about their care.

The blood test looks at 18 genetic variations, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), known to affect the chances of getting breast cancer. While all women with a BRCA gene mutation are given the same risk figure of 87%, it is actually much more complex and different for every person.

The report says a breast cancer charity described the more tailored approach as an exciting development. Lester Barr, the chair of Prevent Breast Cancer, which partly funded the research, said: “With more accurate genetic testing, we can better predict a woman’s risk of developing the disease and therefore offer the appropriate advice and support, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“It’s so exciting to see this additional test go into clinical practice, as it’s this more tailored method that will help us on our mission to protect future generations from breast cancer.”

“This new test will help women at risk of familial breast cancer to make more informed decisions about their care,” Professor Gareth Evans, a medical genetics expert at the University of Manchester and Saint Mary’s Hospital, said. “BRCA1 and BRCA2 are just part of what we should be looking for when assessing risk and in Manchester we plan to incorporate screening for these new genetic markers in clinical practice within the next six months.”

The Guardian report

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