This research looks into gaining a greater understanding of the genetics of breast cancer, learning more about genes we already know are involved in breast cancer, and to find new ones.
Genetic factors are only responsible for around 10 per cent of breast cancers – yet it is those who inherit ‘faulty genes’ who still face the most aggressive forms of the disease, and for whom chemotherapy treatments are least effective.
Faulty DNA (genes) leads to ‘mistakes’ in how cells operate in our bodies, giving normal cells the wrong instructions and ultimately causing them to grow out of control and form cancerous tumours. Additionally, our genes play a key role in how we respond to life-saving breast cancer treatments. They make some treatments more effective for some people, while for others, once-effective drugs stop working or indeed never work.
We know two inherited breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and 2, carry a very high risk of developing breast cancer (and ovarian cancer). Yet it is the impact of other genes on all breast cancer development and treatment that offers the greatest promise.
What is certain in people who inherit a high risk of developing breast cancer is that the more accurate the genetic tests, so people know whether or not they will develop the disease, the more likely they can be given the right treatment, and the more lives we will save.