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Blood Test Could Predict Breast Cancer Before A Tumor Develops
by Jill Pantozzi | 2:52 pm, May 1st, 2012
More than ever, women are being told to get mammograms if there is a history of breast cancer in their family but that test may soon be obsolete thanks to new research. Scientists have been working on developing methods to detect if someone is likely to develop breast cancer with a simple blood test. And it would let you know long before a tumor ever showed up.
The study, published by American Association for Cancer Research, aimed to detect high risk individuals and allow them extra time to take preventative measures. The lead researcher, Dr. James Flanagan, spoke to The Telegraph about it all.
“Researchers have identified a ‘genetic switch’, carried by one in five women, that doubles their risk of developing breast cancer,” they write. “Experts described the breakthrough by scientists at Imperial College London as ‘exciting’ and said signs of the disease could be detected ‘many decades in advance.’”
They say they’ve isolated a “genetic switch” carried by one in five women that is ”influenced by lifestyle factors such as alcohol, smoking, pollution, and hormones including HRT.”
‘We are working towards prevention,” said Flanagan. “If we can identify women at high risk of cancer we can work towards preventing it and could reduce the incidence of breast cancer quite dramatically. We have found one marker, we need to work towards finding them all and then we will have a more useful test.”
“These tiny genetic changes could be detected in blood samples years before symptoms of breast cancer developed. Scientists analysed blood samples from 1,380 women of various ages, 640 of whom went on to develop breast cancer,” wrote Telegraph. “On average, the blood tests were carried out three years before diagnosis. In some cases they pre-dated the discovery of breast cancer by up to 11 years. The results were especially clear in blood samples from women under the age of 60.”
The research showed potential to help in cases of other cancers as well like lymphoma and leukaemia.
“By piecing together how this happens, we can look at ways of preventing the disease and detecting it earlier to give people the best possible chance of survival,” said Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign.
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