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Cancer clue from mouth swab

28th January 2009

A new mouth swab test devised by UK scientists could help identify those at genetic risk of developing breast cancer.

breastcancer

The test examines seven variations of genes associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

In addition, the women will also be questioned on lifestyle and family history as part of the private test, which will cost £700.

Known as deCODE, it assesses lifestyle and genetic factors to highlight the level of risk.

The company behind the initiative, BreastHealth UK, says it could increase survival for high-risk women while preventing unnecessary screening for the low risk.

Medical director Professor Gordon Wishart said patients suspected to be a higher risk would be offered more intensive screening and even preventative chemotherapy like taking tamoxifen.

"Decisions will be made in consultation with an experienced breast surgeon and patients will have access to a genetic counsellor where necessary," he added.

At present, doctors test for four genes - BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53 and PTEN - as these are associated with high risks of developing breast cancer.

The news of the new test comes after the first baby to have been screened for BRCA1 was born in London.

Breast Cancer Care pointed out there were also a number of lesser genes which may affect risk but added that the new test combined with clinical trials could further improve understanding of this.

Dr Sarah Cant, Policy Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "Large scale, long-term studies are needed to evaluate whether genetic tests like deCODE BreastCancer can provide useful information about breast cancer risk."

 

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