New insight into breast cancer risk
Published: 19th Sep 2010 18:20:51
Women with a "high risk" breast cancer gene may find out more about their chances of developing the disease by having other parts of their DNA checked, say researchers.
Differences in a separate genetic "region" were found to raise or lower the risk for women with the BRCA1 gene.
In future, such results could help women decide on preventative treatment.
The DNA region, reports the journal Nature Genetics, could also have an impact on ovarian cancer risk.
Scientists have known for some time that certain genetic mutations are linked to a substantially higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer at some point in a woman's lifetime.
Carrying a mutated BRCA1 gene, for example, means at least a 65% risk of breast cancer by the age of 70, and a 40% risk of ovarian cancer.
However, the remaining uncertainty can be damaging and distressing for women - some even elect to have their breasts or ovaries removed to reduce the chances of falling ill.
The latest find offers the prospect of "fine-tuning" genetic testing to offer a more personalised view of the likely risk.
Three groups of scientists at the University of Cambridge and University College London simultaneously published their research into DNA regions and cancer risk in the journal.
The first group searched the entire genetic code of 2,300 women with faulty BRCA1 genes. Some had developed breast cancer under the age of 40, and some were cancer-free.
They found a region of the 19th chromosome which, depending on its configuration, appeared to either slightly reduce or to increase the risk of developing cancer.
Dr Antonis Antoniou, who led this study, said: "We've found a DNA region that acts like a volume control - to turn up or turn down the risk of developing breast cancer from faults in the BRCA1 gene.
We've found a DNA region that acts like a volume control - to turn up or turn down the risk of developing breast cancer”
"Our discovery is the first step in a much larger study to identify genetic factors that modify breast cancer risk in women carrying BRCA1 mutations, and ultimately could help assess the risk for each woman and monitor for the disease."
Only one in 20 breast cancer cases involve a faulty BRCA1 gene, but the researchers believe that the DNA region they've found may have wider significance.
They found some evidence that, for one form of breast cancer, the risk was raised and lowered by changes in the DNA region, even though the person did not have mutated BRCA1.
Another of the three studies found that the newly-identified region may play a role in ovarian cancer risk in women without the BRCA1 fault.
Scientists are hopeful that analysis of this DNA region and others yet to be identified will eventually offer the chance for a more accurate prediction of cancer risk for individual people.
Although the change in risk attributed to the single DNA region is modest, it is hoped that it can be combined with other regions to produce a clearer picture.
The third study revealed four other separate genetic regions which appeared to be linked with cancer risk in the general population.
Dr Lesley Walker, from Cancer Research UK, which part-funded the studies, said: "We're dedicated to unravelling cancer risk so we can provide doctors with better tools to identify who is at risk and help select the best treatment."
A spokesperson for Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the results were "very exciting".
She said: "These findings show how another area of DNA can influence the BRCA1 gene and alter the risk of developing breast cancer.
"It adds another piece to the puzzle of understanding why some women are at higher risk of breast cancer."
At 22:00:06 in EnglandA car ploughed through the front of a shop after a crash in Greater Manchester.
At 21:53:55 in WorldSome Caribbean nations are demanding reparations from Europe over the Atlantic slave trade. But slavery still happens today - film director Steve McQueen said at the Academy Awards there are 21 million slaves worldwide. Is that figure correct?
At 21:42:03 in WorldLibyan officials say they have taken control of a North Korean-flagged tanker that loaded crude oil at a port occupied by rebel forces.
At 21:40:49 in SportAndy Murray survived a scare to beat Czech youngster Jiri Vesely 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
At 21:33:23 in EnglandThe mother of an anorexia patient who killed herself on the Tube in London has said a lack of hospital beds in Kent may have contributed to her death.
At 21:28:24 in BusinessShares in some of the world's biggest mining companies have been hit by a slump in the price of iron ore, amid fears of a slowdown in China's economy.
At 21:06:25 in EnglandBatman enthusiasts are thought to be behind the latest disappearance of a village sign in Nottinghamshire.
At 21:04:03 in HeadlinesAbout 150 people are on the fourth day of a hunger strike at an immigration detention centre in the US state of Washington, officials say.
At 20:28:13 in WorldSaudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar last Wednesday after accusing the emirate of meddling in their internal affairs.
At 20:25:58 in ScotlandPolice have reported three people to the procurator fiscal and warned a further six after a crackdown on illegal motorcyclists in Fife.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. New insight into breast cancer risk [Online] (Updated 19th Sep 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/91587/New-insight-into-breast-cancer-risk [Accessed 10th Mar 2014]
News In Other Categories
Some Caribbean nations are demanding reparations from Europe over the Atlantic slave trade. But slavery still happens today - film director Steve McQueen said at the Academy Awards there are 21 million slaves worldwide. Is that figure correct?
Two wallabies have escaped from privately-owned land in County Down and police have warned the public not to approach the animals.
A car ploughed through the front of a shop after a crash in Greater Manchester.
American writer George Saunders has won the inaugural Folio Prize for his "darkly playful" short story collection, Tenth of December.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A Japanese scientist behind a seemingly groundbreaking stem cell study says the findings should be withdrawn amid doubts over its quality.