Doctors are already familiar with certain systems they use daily in clinical practice. This is about certain computer programs that have the ability to evaluate an individual’s possibilities for suffering from some types of cancer, either for genetic reasons, or by the patient’s life habits.
Even though these same professionals warn that these types of practices can only be useful in certain cases, like in those related to breast cancer, for example, just knowing that the disease could develop can be useful for acting in time, and thereby stopping it or preventing it from developing.
Something that was learned a long time ago was that, along with being able to predict this type of cancer, it is also possible to know this at least 10 to 11 years ahead of time. This means that possible risks can be determined years before the disease develops.
How is this possible?
A group of British scientists have developed a new genetic test that could quite possibly predict the development of breast cancer.
The primary reason that this study was performed was to see how environmental factors could influence it, along with habits like smoking, abusing alcohol or hormones, related to genetic changes that occur and that are responsible in a large percentage of the women that are at a high risk of developing this disease.
An oncologist expert explains the key points to this study, which are added to other tests that help predict said risk (within a genetic family). These systems, however, estimate risk over a lifetime, but they are incapable of predicting the exact time when it will materialize.
Keys to the study
Systemic carcinogenic agents affect all of the body’s cells. A blood test is needed in order to obtain an individual’s DNA; white blood cells contain the same DNA as all of the individuals’ other cells, therefore the genetic analysis for hereditary cancer is performed with a normal blood test.
Some researchers found a biological marker, methylation of the ATM gene, which has a very high ability to predict the risk of developing cancer, several years before diagnosis.
Through the process of “methylation”, it was found that one biological indicator is being exposed to harmful substances that could be highly carcinogenic, as could old age, ionizing radiation, over-consumption of alcohol or tobacco, hydrocarbon particles, among others.
How much time before?
It is said that it can be predicted between one month and 11 years before. Therefore, an individual with a high statistical risk along with “hypermethyation of the ATM gene”, is more likely to develop cancer during the following years.
It is important to undergo other studies in order to have a correct diagnosis and to be completely sure, without the possibility of error. Some people that had the tests and the marker was detected, never even develop the disease.
It’s quite possible that it will take a few years for this test to be available to general medical practice, even though all the studies have been proven effective. We will still have to wait some time until being able to enjoy this wonderful advance.