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Manchester women to be offered new breast cancer test

Friday 20th October 2017
Two Manchester hospitals are rolling out a new test that can determine a womans genetic likelihood of developing breast cancer. Image: Szakaly via iStock
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Manchester-based scientists are getting ready to launch a new genetic test that will help to determine how likely women are to develop breast cancer in the future.

Research carried out by doctors at the Manchester University Foundation Trust led to the discovery that women who have a mutation in their BRCA gene are between 30 and 90 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who do not have this gene defect, BBC News reports.

Testing for mutations in the BRCA gene can help to predict a woman's likelihood of developing breast cancer. Once they know their risk, they can then decide whether or not they would like to undergo a preventative mastectomy or make changes to their lifestyle in order to reduce their chance of a diagnosis in the future.

Actress Angelina Jolie is one of the most high-profile stars to have been tested for a BRCA mutation, which revealed she had an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer. She subsequently underwent a mastectomy.

The new test developed by Manchester doctors is to be known as the SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) test and will initially be offered to patients at the city's St Mary's Hospital and nearby Wythenshawe Hospital.

Scientists will test samples of patients' blood or saliva for 18 different genetic variants that have been linked with increased breast cancer risk, including mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

It will be offered to women known to have a history of the disease in their families to give them more control over their futures.

The test results will then be combined with data on a woman's breast density and the age she reached puberty or first gave birth before she is provided with a percentage of how likely she is to receive a future breast cancer diagnosis.

Dr Justine Alford of Cancer Research UK commented: "The more that we learn about the genetic components behind these increased risks of developing breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease, the better the choice they can make about their health."

Written by Martin Lambert

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