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.