BEACON TRANSCRIPT – According to a statistic released in 2015, approximately 2.8 million women have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, dubbed the second deadliest form of cancer after lung cancer. A new study on the nature of this disease proved that epigenetic markers can reveal developing breast cancer.
Before this study was conducted, the doctors used the genetic-oriented method in order to determine if someone had a high risk of developing breast cancer. The methods included an analysis of the family’s medical history, late menstruation and even early menopause. All these factors were considered to play a key role in someone’s propension towards developing breast cancer.
But a new study has proved that the doctors don’t have to look so far in order to find clues about the patient’s predisposition to developing this deadly form of cancer. They study was performed by a team of researchers from the University College of London and their findings were published in the Nature Communication journal.
According to their theory, early signs of cancer can be encoded in the patient’s epigenome. The epigenome or the epigenetic system is basically our cell’s software. Through this system, our body imbues each cell with its own identity. Moreover, further research on the epigenome has uncovered that this body software also has the capability of controlling the DNA sequencing process.
Through their experiments, the scientists have observed that if there are any flaws in the epigenome, our cells losses the ability to differentiate. In time, this could lead the abnormal development of the cells, thus leading to cancer and other deadly diseases.
The conclusion of the study is that epigenetic markers can reveal developing breast cancer. In order to test out their theories, the team of scientists enlisted the help of 668 patients. Some of them had been diagnosed with breast cancer before the study while other exhibited no sign of the disease.
By using a unique statistical method, developed by Andrew Techendorff, one of the study’s co-authors, the team observed that even the healthy tissue found in the proximity of the tumor consists of thousands of epigenetic alterations. Using the team’s findings, oncologists will now be able to study the epigenetic markers in order to find out if a woman is predisposed to breast cancer of not.
Moreover, their findings can also be used to develop more targeted therapies and hone the early detection methods.
However, Techendorff and the other scientists cautioned that women who exhibit severe epigenetic alterations in the healthy tissue have a low chance of survival.
In conclusion, Techendorff and the other scientists declared that this method will not only pave the way for new cancer detection methods, but he also stated that epigenetic alterations can be reversed if they are detected in time.