Breast Cancer Breakthrough Needs Way More Attention

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With cancer, early detection is key. Recognizing risk factors plays an important proactive role. Did you know that your risk of developing breast cancer can be revealed with a DNA analysis? It's called a "polygenic risk score" and if it is approved for all women, we could be looking at a major breast cancer breakthrough. That breakthrough is in prevention.


There are currently far too many women in life right now who have or have had breast cancer. I know five women who have been diagnosed within the past four months. I also know two breast cancer survivors. And those five women who were just diagnosed will soon be as well. I can't help but wonder in fear if there are more women I know who right now have breast cancer but are unaware.

What I do know is the women who are currently battling the disease are doing so with grace and strength and the knowledge that they will beat it. Because they will. And I also know that more needs to be done. That is why this DNA analysis is necessary for all women. Right now, the DNA testing is available only for those sent to genetic screening due to a family history of breast cancer. I think this should be part of routine testing. Montserrat Garcia-Closas, one of the leaders in the study of genetic testing and professor of epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said:

This type of testing could fit alongside other standard risk measures, such as family history and body mass index, to improve our ability to target the best preventive treatments and advice to those women most likely to benefit from them.

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Senior science communications manager at Cancer Research UK, Nell Barrie added:

This study shows how the genetic map of breast cancer that scientists have been building up over the years might be used to identify women most at risk, so we can take steps to reduce their chances of developing the disease or catch it at the earliest possible stage.

This testing exists. The information is out there -- it is in our bodies. We have to use the testing to stop cancer. We need to open up the conversation about this -- get our doctors involved, make sure our insurance companies are on board, and make this testing part of screening so that five more women I know -- that you know -- do not get breast cancer, or they are able to stop it before it metastasizes so there are more stories of remission.

What do you think of DNA testing for all women?


Image via Laura Lima/Flickr

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