London, Oct 9: Scientists have developed a new gene test for breast cancer patients, which could inform women how likely they are to develop breast cancer, and can lead to fewer women being diagnosed with the deadly disease.
The test known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) could help reduce the number of women having surgery to remove their breasts to narrow down their risk.
The test will initially be available for patients having BRCA1 and 2 gene mutations, with a family history of breast cancer.
“This is a massive game changer for breast cancer where we now have tests which can give accurate risk in the whole population, those with a family history and those with BRCA mutations,” professor Gareth Evans, from the Manchester University was quoted as saying to the BBC.
Women with these gene mutations are often quoted as having 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer, but in fact their risk of cancer is much more complex than that, and different for every person.
“Women with a BRCA mutation have a risk of breast cancer somewhere between 30 per cent and 90 per cent,” Evans added.
Being able to narrow down a woman’s individual risk will mean they are better informed about whether to have a mastectomy or not, she said.
The SNP test, conducted on blood or saliva, looks at 18 genetic variants known to affect the chances of getting breast cancer.
Combining the information on breast density, the age a woman has children or reaches puberty, the test gives women a percentage change of developing breast cancer within the next 10 years, and throughout their lifetime, the researchers said.