Simple blood test could detect early signs of breast cancer

A blood test could offer an early screening system for breast cancer - even in women who do not have the BRCA genes, scientists said. Experts found a molecular "switch" in the blood which increases the chance of breast cancer, but can be tested for.

Blood test would allow women to 'control cancer risk'

A simple blood test which could detect the early signs of breast cancer would allow a woman to "take control of her own risk", a medical expert said.

Dr Matthew Lam, senior research officer at the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, described the findings as "definitely promising".

This could mean that in the future a woman may be able to have a simple blood test to look for this DNA signature, and therefore know if she is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

If she does have this signature, she could then work with her doctor to explore the options available to help her take control of her own risk.

These could include lifestyle changes, tailored breast screening, risk-reducing drugs or surgery.

– Dr Matthew Lam

Expert: Breast cancer blood test data 'encouraging'

Data from a study into a potential blood test for breast cancer is "encouraging" as it would make early detection of the disease in all women much easier, a science chief has said.

Lead researcher on the study, Professor Martin Widschwendter, from University College London, said:

We identified an epigenetic signature in women with a mutated BRCA1 gene that was linked to increased cancer risk and lower survival rates.

Surprisingly, we found the same signature in large cohorts of women without the BRCA1 mutation and it was able to predict breast cancer risk several years before diagnosis.

The data is encouraging since it shows the potential of a blood-based epigenetic test to identify breast cancer risk in women without known predisposing genetic mutations.

– Professor Martin Widschwendter

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Breast cancer blood test 'could screen most women'

A blood test for breast cancer could soon be available and offer an early warning system for all women, not just those with the BRCA genes, scientists said.

Read: Study: Breast cancer screening reduces deaths by 28%

Breast cancer
Women with a BRCA gene have an 85% chance of developing breast cancer. Credit: PA

Experts found a molecular "switch" in blood samples which increase a women's chances of having breast cancer.

The marker is associated with the BRCA1 breast cancer gene but was also found in other breast cancer patients who went on to develop the disease.

Before this blood test there was no way of predicting the likelihood of breast cancer in someone if the disease did not run in their family.

Around 10% of breast cancers are caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene variants inherited from parents, leaving 90% of cases unexplained.

Read: 'Killer' immune cell 'boosts breast cancer survival chances'