DNA in breast tissue can lead to detection of cancer risk.
Research from a new study at University College London is saying the DNA in normal breast tissue can indicate the risk for developing breast cancer, according to UPI. The potential for this new early detection method can be extremely valuable as doctors may be able to accurately predict a woman’s risk for the disease and take extra precautions to monitor her health.
Earlier research has shown factors such as starting periods early, late entry into menopause and family history are linked with the increased risk of contracting breast cancer. It appears these factors alter the genetic programming in breast cells, and the new research says this alteration can be detected in the cell’s DNA.
The study analyzed 569 breast tissue samples, including 50 from women who were cancer free, along with others who did have cancer. A comparison of the data revealed that over 30 percent of the samples with DNA alterations matched the cancer samples. Researchers were able to identify some of the programming in the cells that changes them from normal tissue to cancerous.
Martin Widschwendter, head of the department of women’s cancer at University College London, said in a press release the new findings are important in supporting further research into women’s cancer development and prevention.
Widschwendter added, “We are working hard to understand the risk factors associated with epigenetic changes in normal breast tissue and how these predispose a woman to cancer. The application of these altered epigenetic signatures hold the key developing new interventions that could ‘switch off’ this epigenetic defect and hold the key to preventing cancer development.”
This new information shows how epigenetic alterations can be used to identify women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to Andrew Teschendorff, a researcher at University College London. He continued, “Since epigenetic alterations are reversible, it offers the potential to design preventive strategies. Our work further highlights the importance of inter-disciplinary work, combining clinical, biological and statistical expertise to make these findings possible.”
The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.