It would be extremely good if diseases like breast cancer could be predicted years before they develop. Good news… A blood test that identifies modifications in a particular gene might uncover the risk of a woman having breast cancer many years prior to the disease develop.
British scientists analyzed blood samples from 640 breast cancer patients and 741 women without breast cancer. The samples from the breast cancer patients were collected an average of three years before they were diagnosed with the disease.
The objective was to find out if the alteration of single genes by a process called methylation could predict a woman’s breast cancer risk.
The researchers found that women with the highest level of methylation on one area of a gene called ATM were two times more likely to develop cancer than those with the lowest level of methylation. Methylation is a critical process where chemicals known as “methyl groups” are added to DNA, to make sure everything is in good working order. High levels of methylation signal high levels of DNA trouble.
This result was particularly pronounced in blood samples taken from women under the age of 60, Dr. James Flanagan, a Breast Cancer Campaign scientific fellow in the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, said in a news release from the Breast Cancer Campaign.
The study was published May 1 in the journal Cancer Research.
This results offer solid facts that searching for this kind of modification in particular genes may possibly be employed as a blood test to help forecast a woman’s odds of developing breast cancer, the researchers said.
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