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Identifying genes linked to breast cancer could help scientists to create genotype profiles to determine the individual risk of women for the disease. Mutations in two genes are estimated to account for about 15-20 percent of familial breast cancer. A team of Cambridge University scientists has identified variants in six genes that may help to identify women at risk for breast cancer, the Federation of European Cancer Societies has announced.
A strong family history, involving dominant genes, is already well established as a cause of breast cancer. Mutations in the BRCA1 and 2 genes are estimated to account for about 15-20 percent of familial breast cancer. The Cambridge research might lead to the development of further tests to identify women who are at risk from other genetic mutations. "The number and type of genes that account for the remainder of familial breast cancer is not clear. It is, however, plausible, that at least some of this genetic predisposition is attributable to the effects of multiple, common, but individually weak genes," Professor Bruce Ponder, of the cancer research campaign department of oncology at the university, said in a statement.
Identifying such genes could help scientists to create genotype profiles to determine the risk of individual women at risk for the disease. These could be used in pre-symptomatic screening, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Ponder believes that genotype profiles may ultimately prove to be more effective than established clinical risk factors in determining if an individual woman is at risk. These factors include age, reproductive factors including age of first menstruation cycle and menopause, high-fat diet, alcohol consumption and high socioeconomic status.
"These established risk factors are all very important, but they are not good discriminants of risk for the individual. It's been shown that if you take a series of 10,000 women and evaluate them according to these factors, you can predict fairly accurately how many of them will get breast cancer. But what you can't do is to tell which women will get it and which won't. We hope that the genetic profiles will be much more specific -and tell us which individuals are at high risk and which are not," Ponder said.
MEDICA.de; Source: Federation of European Cancer Societies