Online calculator could predict breast cancer risk

17 January 2019 (Last Updated January 17th, 2019 12:03)

A University of Cambridge-led research team has developed a new approach for calculating the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Online calculator could predict breast cancer risk
Online calculator for breast cancer risk comprises questions regarding a patient, including family history, genetic alterations related to cancer. Credit: Anne Weston, Francis Crick Institute.

A University of Cambridge-led research team has developed a new approach for calculating the risk of developing breast cancer.

The online calculator analyses family history and genetic information along with additional factors such as weight, age at menopause, alcohol consumption and hormone replacement therapy use.

During a study, researchers observed that assessment of all these factors could allow identification of women at varying risks of developing breast cancer.

For the development of the new tool, the team considered more than 300 genetic indicators for breast cancer. The calculator is currently being tested by a group of GPs, practice nurses and genetic counsellors.

“It could be a game changer for breast cancer because now we can identify large numbers of women with different levels of risk, not just those at high risk.”

The online tool comprises a set of questions regarding a patient, including medical and family history, genetic alterations related to cancer, and weight.

This information is expected to help customise breast cancer screening based on an individual’s risk as well as aid preventative therapy planning.

University of Cambridge Department of Public Health and Primary Care professor Antonis Antoniou said: “This is the first time that anyone has combined so many elements into one breast cancer prediction tool.

“It could be a game changer for breast cancer because now we can identify large numbers of women with different levels of risk, not just women who are at high risk.

“This should help doctors to tailor the care they provide depending on their patients’ level of risk. 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.”

In the UK, breast cancer is considered to be the most common form of cancer, with approximately 55,000 women diagnosed every year. The majority of cases are known to be of people at higher risk.