New Test Could Predict Breast Cancer Risk

The scientists at Cancer Research UK, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, have identified 77 changes in the DNA of individuals at an increased risk for breast cancer and have developed a "polygenic risk score" based on the changes.

UK researchers have taken a step towards identifying women at increased risk of breast cancer by analysing their DNA (link is external).

The findings suggest that developing a test for a group of DNA changes could one day help doctors detect those with an increased risk of the disease. Improving the accuracy of risk analysis in this way could help tailor screening in the future, and serve as a guide for information and support given to women. The team, led by scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the University of Cambridge, analysed 77 individual DNA changes that have been linked with slight increases in breast cancer risk on their own.

But the increased risk is smaller than for other genetic faults, such as inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 90%. Studying data from 65,000 women, the researchers came up with a measure of risk — called a ‘polygenic risk score’ – based on the appearance of faults in these 77 regions. Using one of the world’s biggest databases of genetic information – called the Collaborative Oncological Gene-Environment Study – they found a link between higher ‘polygenic risk scores’ and a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Link to the news report by Cancer Research UK: