According to new research, DNA analysis of normal breast tissue can be used to calculate a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer later in life. The research team at the University College London took a look at 668 breast tissue samples from 50 cancer-free women and 42 women with cancer. They analyzed both normal and cancerous tissue.
In more than 30 percent of cases, the research team found that the alterations in DNA expression matched those of cancer samples. According to researchers, this could indicate the reprogramming of cells from normal to cancerous in patients.
According to the study papers, researchers said, “Importantly a large component of the detected variable epigenetic signature was enriched in the corresponding breast cancer tissue, supporting the view of the researchers that this variable epigenetic signature marks susceptible precursor cells crucially involved in breast cancer development. Furthermore, those cases of breast cancer which were exhibiting epigenetic changes were associated with significantly poorer prognosis and a decreased level of survivorship from the disease.”
Researchers named the study “Vital clues to future cancer development in normal breast tissue DNA.” They aim to find out how breast cancer develops from normal cells to cancer cells using the information from the study. Because breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and leads to health issues for millions of women across the world, researchers have singled it out as one of the most important areas of research when it comes to the deadly disease.
If the findings of this study prove to be true, they will be able to track the development of breast cancer in women before they even show signs. Women with certain breast cancer cells will be at higher risk and they will be able to keep a closer eye on their breast health.
Professor Martin Widschwendter, Head of Department of Women’s Cancer at University College London, was quoted a, “These new findings are important in supporting further research into women’s cancer development and prevention. We are working hard to understand the risk factors associated with epigenetic changes in normal breast tissue and how these pre dispose 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.”
Although the research is only in its beginning stages, the team’s findings already has the potential to saves millions of lives as well as save millions of women around the world the pain of going through breast cancer treatment.
Photo: Flickr: Erik Söderström