Researchers work to identify cancer risk - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Researchers work to identify cancer risk

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Felicia Harden-Bradford never thought she would get breast cancer.

"I had a breast sonogram and that's when they found that I had stage 0 cancer," she said.

The 42-year-old didn't have a history of the disease in her family.

"No one could explain to me why I was getting cancer if genetically I wasn't set up," she said.

Now, new research may be able to help identify people who are at increased risk for cancer before they get it. Scientists from around the globe have uncovered dozens of genes that could increase a person's chances of developing breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

"It's all about predicting who might get cancer and avoiding the disease if all possible. So, that's the theme here. That the genetics can actually identify who is at risk and then we can catch the cancers very early or avoid them completely," said Dr. Fergus Couch of the Mayo Clinic, one of the authors of the study.

Scientists found 49 new markers for breast cancer, 23 genetic variations for prostate cancer and 11 for ovarian cancer. More than 100 research institutions worldwide were involved in this massive study, which looked at the DNA makeup of over 200,000 people.

While the findings are promising, doctors say it's just another piece to the puzzle for now.

"The real test is whether or not you can find treatments from identifying these genes to see if this is going to make a clinical significance," said Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph of NYU Langone Medical Center.

Scientists hope their findings will lead to new diagnostic tests within the next 5-10 years.

Researchers say a gene test using all the known markers could reduce mammograms and PSA tests by 20 percent.

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