It’s a ‘game-changing’ test to predict women’s risk of breast cancer, experts say.
Combining information on family history and hundreds of genetic markers is said to be the most comprehensive assessment available today, according to Cancer Research UK.
But the test is not widely available today; GPs and specialists are trialling this new method of spotting cancers through tailored screenings before it reaches the public.
Almost 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, with a large portion of cases occurring in women who have these identifiable risk factors.
Professor Antonis Antoniou, lead researcher at the University of Cambridge, said: “This is the first time that anyone has combined so many elements into one breast cancer prediction tool.
“It could be a game changer for breast cancer because now we can identify large numbers of women with different levels of risk – not just women who are at high risk.
“This should help doctors to tailor the care they provide depending on their patients’ level of risk. For example, some women may need additional appointments with their doctor to discuss screening or prevention options and others may just need advice on their lifestyle and diet.
“We hope this means more people can be diagnosed early and survive their disease for longer but more research and trials are needed before we will fully understand how this could be used.”
Breast Cancer now charity is calling it a ‘promising step’, but warns that more research is required to develop the tool before it changes standard medical practice.
“In the meantime, we’d encourage anyone who is concerned about their breast cancer risk to speak to their GP,” spokeswoman Eluned Hughes said.
“While there are some factors that we can’t change, there are steps everyone can take to reduce their risk of breast cancer, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking less alcohol.”
The test, which also assess ovarian cancer risk, is described in the journal Genetics in Medicine.
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