MAR 16, 2015 9:29 PM PDT

Fifteen New Breast Cancer Genetic Risk 'Hot Spots' Revealed

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Scientists have discovered 15 previously unknown genetic ‘hot-spots' that can increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to research published today in Nature Genetics.

In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, scientists compared tiny variations in the genetic make-up of more than 120,000 women of European ancestry, with and without breast cancer, and identified 15 new variations - called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - that are linked to a higher risk of the disease. This new discovery means that a total of more than 90 SNPs associated with breast cancer have now been revealed through research.

On average, one in every eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some stage in their lives. The researchers estimate that about one in twenty women have enough genetic variations to double their risk of developing breast cancer - giving them a risk of approximately one in four. A much smaller group of women, less than one in a hundred (0.7 per cent), have genetic variations that make them three times more likely to develop breast cancer, giving them a risk of around one in three. It's hoped that these genetic markers can be used to help identify high-risk women and could lead to improved cancer screening and prevention.

Study author Professor Doug Easton, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, said: "Our study is another step towards untangling the breast cancer puzzle. As well as giving us more information about how and why a higher breast cancer risk can be inherited, the genetic markers we found can help us to target screening and cancer prevention measures at those women who need them the most.

"The next bit of solving the puzzle involves research to understand more about how genetic variations work to increase a woman's risk. And we're sure there are more of these variations still to be discovered."

The study was carried out by dozens of scientists across the world working together in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, part of the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study. Each of the genetic variations, identified through this study and other research, is known to raise a woman's risk of breast cancer by a small amount - but some people have lots of these variations which add up to a more significantly increased risk.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with almost 50,000 women diagnosed every year. Death rates are falling as we learn more about the disease and how to diagnose and treat it, and around 78 per cent of people now live for at least 10 years after diagnosis.

Nell Barrie, senior science communications manager at Cancer Research UK, one of the funders of the study, said: "We're gradually uncovering breast cancer's secrets at a genetic level and learning how best to tackle this disease which still claims far too many lives. This latest study adds more detail to our genetic map of breast cancer risk and could help to develop new ways to identify women most at risk so we can spot breast cancer earlier in the future."

Source: University of Cambridge
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
OCT 13, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
How the Tumor Microenvironment Can Disarm Immunity
How the Tumor Microenvironment Can Disarm Immunity
Cancer is basically what happens when cells start growing and dividing uncontrollably, and it gets worse when those canc ...
NOV 23, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Why researchers have hope that cannabis may help fight ovarian cancer
Why researchers have hope that cannabis may help fight ovarian cancer
There's a positive, growing link between cannabis and the fight against ovarian cancer. Here's why researchers are optim ...
DEC 07, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Mucus Eating Microbe Contributes to Major Cancer Treatment Complication
Mucus Eating Microbe Contributes to Major Cancer Treatment Complication
  Akkermansia muciniphila loves to degrade mucin, a molecule found in mucus. We’ve identified this and other ...
DEC 08, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Circulating Tumor Cells Effectively Inform Treatment Decisions in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Circulating Tumor Cells Effectively Inform Treatment Decisions in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Circulating tumor cells are tumor cells found circulating in the blood that come from a primary tumor. Circulating tumor ...
DEC 16, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
The Age of mRNA Cancer Vaccines Starts with Melanoma
The Age of mRNA Cancer Vaccines Starts with Melanoma
Earlier this week, pharmaceuticals Merck and Moderna announced “the first demonstration of efficacy” for an ...
JAN 27, 2023
Cancer
A New Immunotherapy Approach for Advanced Colorectal Cancer
A New Immunotherapy Approach for Advanced Colorectal Cancer
With estimates of over 150,000 new cases and over 50,000 deaths in 2022, colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the top ...
Loading Comments...