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GPs could use breast cancer ‘calculator’ to predict risk to women

Article source: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/15/gps-could-use-breast-cancer-calculator-to-predict-risk-to-women

Accessed from the world wide web at 09:00 hrs on 21.01.19.

Women may be able to go to their GP to find out their risk of getting breast cancer and choose whether or not to be screened, if a new online calculator devised by scientists is successful.

Many lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer are known, but each one individually often does not add up to much. The cumulative effect, however, may be much more significant. The same applies to genes. Two inherited faulty genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – give women an increased chance of developing breast cancer. But there are many other genes that are now thought to play a small part. The researchers, for their risk assessment, have taken into account 300 different genes that could be identified.

“This is the first time that anyone has combined so many elements into one breast cancer prediction tool,” said Prof Antonis Antoniou, the lead author of the research at the University of Cambridge.

He added: “It could be a game changer for breast cancer because now we can identify large numbers of women with different levels of risk – not just women who are at high risk.

“This should help doctors to tailor the care they provide depending on their patients’ level of risk. For example, some women may need additional appointments with their doctor to discuss screening or prevention options and others may just need advice on their lifestyle and diet.

“We hope this means more people can be diagnosed early and survive their disease for longer, but more research and trials are needed before we will fully understand how this could be used.”

The researchers, who have published a paper in the journal Genetics in Medicine, have been hoping that a few GP practices would try out the risk assessment tool later this year.

A large proportion of the 55,000 breast cancers diagnosed each year in the NHS have been in women at increased risk of the disease. If the calculator works well, it could lead to more of those at risk being identified early, when they could be successfully treated.

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Article source 2: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46875367

Accessed from the world wide web at 10:30 hrs on 21.01.19.