Breast Cancer (Ductal Carcinoma)

Breast cancer risk

A new breast cancer warning tool enters clinics

Identification of women at high risk of breast cancer could boost survival rates and even avoid the development of the cancer all together.

In a large global project, scientists bridged the gap between geneticists and epidemiologists and between Australia and Europe in a collaborative project to improve breast cancer risk prediction.

BRIDGES, or Breast Cancer Risk after Diagnostic Gene Sequencing, a Horizon 2020-funded project run by the Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, brought together experts from different fields: from clinical genetics, epidemiology, bioinformatics, statistics, and gene biology.

Australian researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Melbourne were amongst the 17 participating institutions, with support from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Working with clinical information from 120,000 people BRIDGES refined our knowledge of ‘breast cancer genes’ and developed an algorithm combining different risk factors, such as BMI and hormone levels, into a single risk score: the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA).

“The results of our study have been incorporated into an online tool called CanRisk,” says the BRIDGES coordinator, Professor Peter Devilee of the Leiden University Medical Centre.

“The tool is intended mostly for healthy women who would like to prevent breast cancer development. This includes, for example, women who suspect they are at risk and are considering preventive measures such as prophylaxis, more intensive screening, or lifestyle adaptations,” he says.