A Blood Test May Shed Light on Breast Cancer Risks
Medical professionals looking for an edge in helping detect breast cancer in its earliest stages may soon have a new tool in their corner. Researchers are working on a new blood test that can help determine a woman’s risk for developing the disease even before it’s present.
A blood test of this nature could arm women with a greater estimation of their risks while enabling them to take measures to reduce them. What makes this particular test of such interest is it provides risk insights for women who do not have inherited genetic mutations that tend to lead to breast cancer. The need for such a test is critical since most breast cancer cases are not related to the inherited mutation. In fact, only about 40 percent of all breast cancers can be explained by genetics. The rest are caused by outside factors, such as smoking, diet, lack of exercise and alcohol use.
Considering the other causes of breast cancer, researchers have been working to develop a tool that looks for changes in DNA functions, rather than mutations. The test hones in on the BRCA1 breast cancer gene. When it functions normally, BRCA1 stops out-of-control cell growth that is responsible for transforming healthy cells into tumors. When BRCA1 changes, its functionality does, as well. When all is said and done, changes in this DNA functionality can lead to breast cancer development. With that in mind, researchers set out to develop a blood test to detect changes in DNA functions.
While far from ready for mass use, the new blood test has held up well in clinical trials. Researchers found the test consistently predicted trial subjects who would ultimately develop cancer five to 12 years in the future.
Someday doctors may be able to use a simple blood test to gauge breast cancer risk. In the meantime, women should follow the early detection protocols outlined by their doctors.
Choice Cancer Care is an independent, physician-owned cancer center network. Dr. Gregory Echt, a radiation oncologist with over two decades of experience, is the founder of Choice Cancer Care. Choice Cancer Care is among the busiest practices in the country for brachytherapy, or prostate seed implant therapy – a cancer treatment plan for prostate cancer that provides remarkable success rates and fewer life-limiting side effects.