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Breast cancer breakthrough

A study led by Professor Justin Stebbing at Imperial College London has for the first time demonstrated how rapid growth of breast cells during pregnancy, allows expansion of existing mutated cells and contributes to pregnancy associated breast cancer risk. The research funded by Action Against Cancer shows that pregnancy in older women is a breast cancer risk too.

Results of whole genome sequencing on normal breast tissues have never been shown before. The findings contribute to growing evidence that age contributes to the accumulation of mutations in the healthy breast and contributes to breast cancer risk.

One of the unique features of the Imperial College study is that the team performed whole genome sequencing on the breast epithelial cells (the growing edge of an organ) and separately on the stroma (the cells that hold it together). Working with breast tissue is notoriously difficult because of the high fat content.

The study has been pre-printed online and can be viewed here.

It was also featured in The Telegraph.

It is hoped that in future, if the age of the patient is deemed at higher risk for developing breast cancer, a surveillance programme could be implemented to closely monitor any changes in the breast after a late pregnancy and improve early cancer detection. Early diagnosis is very often key to successful cancer treatment.

Read more about this project here.

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