Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Screening

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A revolution in cancer screening and treatment within 15 years is heralded today with the announcement of a leap in the ability to identify genes that cause the disease.

Researchers are confident that their findings will allow a screening programme, in which the inherited risk of developing cancer can be assessed for every patient, to be in place in an estimated 12-15 years.

Four common genes were identified and a fifth is on the verge of being pinpointed by researchers investigating the causes of breast cancer, almost doubling the number of known rogue genes.

One of the new genes, when found in a mutated form, increases the risk of developing the cancer by up to 60 per cent — giving a woman a one in six chance of the disease. Its most damaging variant is carried by one in six women, making it much more common than previously identified genes that contribute to breast cancer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine

6 Comments
Posted May 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Weiwen Ng wrote:

yep, that is a pretty big breakthrough, and it will be followed by more. there’s a need for genetic health education - letting people know, for example, that even one in six chance of breast cancer is not certain, that you can reduce your risk by changing your diet.

May 28, 4:21 pm | [comment link]
2. SouthCoast wrote:

I read about this earlier, elsewhere. As a breast cancer survivor, I thought, “Good!”. Then I read a little further where it was triumphantly stated that now the unborn with the bad genes could be culled in order to prevent any possibility of breast cancer. My blood froze. And if I, according to the prevailing ethic of the culture of death, should have ended my life as a cluster of bloody cells flushed down the nearest sink, what of my younger, beloved sister, who has lupus? Why is it that every slippery slope I mocked in my youth has come to pass? (Although the answer to that latter is sadly self-evident, I fear.) Oh, Lord, make haste to save us.

May 29, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
3. Weiwen Ng wrote:

Dear Southcoast, please quote the phrase in the article that recommends that people be “culled.” There is no such recommendation in the article.

You mischaracterize the use of genetic screening. Also, there is no “culture of death”. And genes are not deterministic for conditions like cancer. Having the genes they discovered increases the probability of getting breast cancer, but having the gene does not mean that you’ll develop cancer for sure. The rest is in the environment. There are very few diseases for which one gene is deterministic - have gene = have disease.

As I said, this will be used for health education, and preventive treatment - and perhaps someday for genetic therapy. There are potential dangers, such as the potential for insurance discrimination. However, the article spoke of treatment and screening. There is nothing to do with abortion except in your imagination.

May 29, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
4. SouthCoast wrote:

As I said, I read that “culling” remark elsewhere, and see no reason for umbrage to be taken at my remarks. They were cautionary. And, believe me, when you read a suggestion that you shoulda been flushed, it’s NOT an act of one’s imagination.

May 29, 2:27 pm | [comment link]
5. Weiwen Ng wrote:

“Then I read a little further where it was triumphantly stated that now the unborn”
Your statement implied that you read something about culling in the article itself, but thanks for the clarification.

I think that people would generally only consider abortions in the case of very serious, uncurable genetic diseases that cause you to die very early. Infantile Tay-Sachs is a good example, because death usually occurs before age 5, and affected infants are severely affected.

If my future child had a heightened risk of breast cancer, even one in six, I would not consent to an abortion. If it were Tay-Sachs, I have to say I would (although I am almost certainly not a carrier).

May 29, 2:44 pm | [comment link]
6. SouthCoast wrote:

Ah. I read what I wrote the first time, and I understand the confusion. Thank you for this calm resolution to our mis-communication!

May 29, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
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