#1 Blood test 'could detect breast cancer years in advance'05-01-2012, 12:03 AM
A blood test that can detect breast cancer decades before the disease develops could be available in five years, scientists have announced.
By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
8:08PM BST 30 Apr 2012
The test could help doctors to identify women at high risk of the disease allowing them to take preventive medicines and switch to healthier lifestyles.
Researchers have identified a 'genetic switch', carried by one in five women, that doubles their risk of developing breast cancer.
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".
Dr James Flanagan, who led the new research, said the test could be available in five to ten years.
The 'genetic switch' is influenced by lifestyle factors such as alcohol, smoking, pollution, and hormones including HRT.
Carrying the genetic alterations increase a woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer from one in eight in the general population to one in four.
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.
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.
Around 49,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and almost 12,000 die annually in Britain.
The changes are also associated with lymphoma and leukaemia meaning the test could have implications in other cancers.
A strong association was found between molecular changes in a white blood cell gene called ATM and breast cancer risk.
Dr Flanagan said: 'We are working towards prevention. 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."
The findings are published in the journal Cancer Research.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: "Dr Flanagan's research into epigenetics is so exciting because it suggests that there is every possibility the risk of developing breast cancer could be decided many decades in advance.
"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."
Last month researchers announced that they had discovered that breast cancer was not a single disease but there were fact ten distinct genetic types.
This means that treatment can be tailored to the genetic profile of the specific type meaning drugs will work better, with fewer side effects.
05-01-2012, 09:35 AM
Another women's health initiative that will not be offered by Family Planning clinics.
Seriously, though, that is great news.--Odysseus
Sic Hacer Pace, Para Bellum.
Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
05-01-2012, 02:33 PM
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Matritech has been developing such a test for years, and has even used it.
I lost my ass a few years ago because I invested too soon (always a danger). I believe the day will come when a blood test will reveal breast cancer, but the politics of breast cancer and the amount of revenue generated by mammograms will slow things down greatly and may even prevent their implementation.
Anyone see the movie "Longitude"? It was an historical essay about the British effort to measure longitude no matter where on earth you were. As it happened, the solution was found long, long before it was accepted because the Longitude Committee was such a prestigious organization. After all, if the problem were solved there would be no more meetings and discussion.
Breast cancer sort of remind me of that. The research money, march organizations, foundations, and so forth will actually slow down the acceptance of the blood test.
05-01-2012, 03:19 PM
It wouldn't hurt for a lot of people to take these blood tests!
05-02-2012, 11:57 AM
They've had a genetic test for a while. One of my sister's friends had a pre-emptive double mastectomy because she was tested for the gene and had it (her mother and sister both died of breast cancer).
My sister works for Komen. She is sick of the politics involved, not to mention all the emotions, since most of her staff are survivors of breast cancer.
05-03-2012, 12:38 AM
Personally, I'd have to be darned sure about the accuracy of that test before doing something so radical.
" To the world you are just one more person, but to a rescued pet, you are the world."
"A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!"
05-03-2012, 12:46 PM
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