Researchers Led by Greek Scientist Develop Tool to Help Determine Risk of Breast Cancer

Air Force Staff Sgt. Erika Haskins uses a ruler to measure a mammogram film to pinpoint areas that are more likely to develop breast cancer at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Photo: Public domain/ by Airman Scherrie K. Gates, U.S. Air Force

NEW YORK – Researchers in the UK, led by Cambridge University’s Dr. Antonis Antoniou, recently published a study revealing their work in developing a tool to assess the risk of breast cancer in women to help determine whether or not screening is needed, the Guardian reported.

Published in Genetics in Medicine, the study, entitled “BOADICEA: a comprehensive breast cancer risk prediction model incorporating genetic and nongenetic risk factors,” came to the conclusion that “this comprehensive model should enable high levels of breast cancer risk stratification in the general population and women with family history, and facilitate individualized, informed decision-making on prevention therapies and screening.”

BOADICEA, stands for the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm, and the risk model has been updated “to include common genetic risk factors for breast cancer,” reported, adding that “the model previously included the cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM.”

Dr. Antoniou said, “This is the first time that anyone has combined so many elements into one breast cancer prediction tool,” the Guardian reported, noting that “this should help doctors to tailor the care they provide depending on their patients’ level of risk. For example, some women may need additional appointments with their doctor to discuss screening or prevention options and others may just need advice on their lifestyle and diet.”

“We hope this means more people can be diagnosed early and survive their disease for longer, but more research and trials are needed before we will fully understand how this could be used,” Dr. Antoniou said, the Guardian reported.

The researchers are hoping general practitioners in the UK will begin testing the tool this year and “if the calculator works well, it could lead to more of those at risk being identified early, when they could be successfully treated,” and “it would also mean that breast cancer screening, through mammograms, could be more accurately targeted,” the Guardian reported.

The tool could also help women decide whether or not to be screened at all if their risk is very low or if they have concerns about false positive results, the Guardian reported. Genetic, familial, and lifestyle data are taken into account to determine the level of risk for the individual.