Researchers identify early changes in BRCA1-positive breast cells

A new study has found that BRCA1-positive breast cells appear to undergo changes before becoming cancerous, which could help identify which patients can benefit from preventative surgery.

The study in mice, funded by Cancer Research UK and published today in Nature Communications, found that breast cells with the BRCA1 gene mutation develop changes similar to those seen in late pregnancy before becoming cancerous.

The researchers suggest that women with BRCA1 mutations could be screened in the future to monitor changes to their breast cells.

This could help to inform decision-making revolving around preventative surgery, by showing who could benefit from this option.

After analyzing the mammary tissue of mice at various ages carrying the BRCA1 mutation, the researchers analyzed breast cells from 12 women who had a BRCA1 mutation and had undergone preventative surgery.

The team found that four out of the 12 women had detectable levels of markers of early stages of tumour initiations.

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