Attention Women: Can you Predict Breast Cancer with a DNA Test?
DNA was only discovered just over fifty years ago, and yet scientists are making leaps and bounds every year in what DNA and genetic testing can do. And now, what has been acclaimed as the most significant advance in a decade in the fight against breast cancer has happened – scientists have used DNA testing and research to identify new breast cancer genes.
The identification of a new group of common genetic markers for breast cancer means scientists now know why women with relatives with the disease are twice as likely to get breast cancer themselves. Two of the four genes, if faulty, mean there is up to a 60% chance of developing the cancer. The breakthrough and identification means scientists can work on DNA testing to help identify the genetic risk of the disease in the future, which can be used as a preventative tool. There are hopes that the breakthrough will help scientists develop genetic tests to help identify and understand other cancers – which will bring them one step closer to finding a cure.
Genetic and Familial Links
It’s common knowledge that breast cancer has strong familial links. It’s hoped that in the future DNA testing will be able to reveal if you have the faulty gene. The discovery of the gene can prove the theory that if you possess the same faulty gene as a close relative with the disease, you are more at risk of developing breast cancer. Having the faulty gene does not mean you will develop cancer, however cancer is twice as common in those who have a close relative with breast cancer as a result of the faulty gene.
Understanding Cancer and Genetics
Cancer specialists have said that this discovery points to the future understanding of the genetics of cancer. Gene tests on thousands of women helped scientists identify four genes responsible for the increased risk of the disease. Around 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to have a genetic link. The DNA testing and recent genetic discovery accounts for about 4% of those cases, although this accounts for a small proportion of the number of women who are diagnosed, it is a step towards developing DNA testing and genetic screening.