Don't delay mammograms! Detect breast cancer in the early stages

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Dr. Grear said, "We see a lot of families that have very strong family histories but come back without a genetic mutation and we know there might be something else".

The study has shed more light on the BRCA1 gene, which Hollywood star Angelina Jolie famously inherited, before she had a mastectomy to reduce her risk.

Researchers collected and analysed data of 275,000 women, half of whom had breast cancer, from around the globe with the aim to evaluate why some women were more at risk than others of developing the disease.

He says he's spent those years spreading awareness and raising money for male breast cancer research. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

Scientists now believe a simple blood test could identify women at greater risk to establish much earlier diagnosis.

Your weight, activity level, alcohol consumption and breast density may determine your risk of breast cancer. When the researchers took a closer look at these, they found distinct patterns specific to breast cancer.

Read the full ER-negative study in Nature Genetics.

However, not all cancer cells carry this receptor - these are known as oestrogen-receptor negative. Ten new genetic variants linked to these cancers were identified.

The discovery of these 72 genetic variation also provides information for researchers " on the biology behind the development of cancer of the breast and on the different sub-types of breast cancer", which should enable it to find "new therapeutic targets", says Mr. Simard.

More than 70 new genetic variations that predispose to breast cancer have been uncovered thanks to the cooperation of 550 researchers around the world, among which figure the team of professor Jacques Simard of Laval University, in Quebec city.

While 41 percent of those receiving conventional treatment for lung cancer survive for at least five years, only 20 percent of those opting for alternative medicines do so, the research adds.

"We knew about 100 before, it is a big contribution but probably more important than the number is the methods we developed", she said.

Two genes already commonly associated with breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. It also increases the risk of ovarian cancer to a lesser degree. "It is estimated that worldwide over 508 000 women died in 2011 due to breast cancer", WHO. Combining the genetic factors with hormonal and lifestyle influences was likely to increase the risk further, they said.

'These women may benefit from more intensive screening, starting at a younger age, or using more sensitive screening techniques, allowing early detection and prevention of the disease'.

QIMR Berghofer's Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench, who helped co-lead the worldwide collaboration, said the discovery nearly doubled what researchers already knew about existing genetic markers.

Another seven genetic variants predisposed women specifically to oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, which often had a poorer prognosis because it did not respond to standard drugs such as Tamoxifen.

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