In just five years, a new test that can assess the likelihood of breast cancer could be publicly available.
A major scientific breakthrough co-led by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) has discovered 72 genetic variants that are connected to the disease. The variants, which put women at greater risk of breast cancer, are unknown until now, reports ABC News.
Researchers believe they will be able to create a successful test within five years, which women with a family history of breast cancer can use to help locate breast cancer early on. Some of the newly discovered variants were found in women with a greater risk of inherited breast cancer.
Presently it is unknown why the genetic variants exist, but QIMR Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench says they are common in breast cancer patients. “Some of them seem to be in pathways that we predicted were important,” she explains. “Like cycadean rhythm or how you respond to daylight.”
Chenevix-Trench adds that the findings will be instrumental in understanding more about breast cancer. “It’s going to tell us an enormous amount about why breast cancers form,” she says. “That, in turn, may lead to new treatments and maybe even preventions.”
The study, which was the result of combined work from over 300 global institutions, examined data from 250,000 women throughout the world. One participant, 45-year-old cancer survivor Josie Dietrich, said she could have prevented the severity of her battle with breast cancer had she been diagnosed earlier. “[A test] would have given me an indication of what kind of process I could have taken after mum’s death because everyone assumed it was just a one off, it was just unusual, but not that there was a gene going through the line,” she says.
At this point, the details of the future test are not known, and it is undetermined whether there will be any associated health risks.