Posted: Dec 6, 2009 6:26 AM by Marianne Favro
What if you could learn your exact risk of developing breast cancer with far more accuracy than just family history? Researchers in California's Bay area are hoping by studying the blood of thousands of women they'll find ways to predict, prevent and treat breast cancer.
Thirty-nine year-old Melinda Maletic just recently had her first mammogram. "I think it's important to be screened." she said. By giving just three teaspoons of her blood, she will be playing a critical role in breast cancer research.
Melinda joins more than 2000 other Bay area women who have given a blood sample at California Pacific medical center for researchers to study. By studying this blood, researchers hope one day they'll be able to develop a blood test that can detect whether a woman is at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Researchers have already discovered an important link between how much tissue is in a woman's breast, and a higher risk of developing breast cancer. That's a risk even higher than family history.
"We think that breast cancers come out of tissue in the breast, not the fat so therefore the more tissue in a breast the greater the risk of developing breast cancer." one researcher says.
Doctors also say it's much harder to detect tumors in the mammogram of a woman with dense breasts. But scientists don't see a blood test ever replacing a mammogram. They do hope one day it will be used with the traditional screening to accurately assess high risk patients giving them the early warning needed to start taking potentially life saving medications.