Breast cancer breakthrough as Cambridge University scientists identify 350 DNA ...

More than 350 DNA 'errors' that make women prone to developing breast cancer have been discovered by scientists. 

A study of 200,000 patients identified 352 genetic mutations which can influence whether a person develops the killer disease.  

Cambridge University experts, who carried out the research, believe these changes may warp as many as 190 genes. 

Less than 40 genes were previously recognised as raising the risk of breast cancer.

The findings could help pinpoint which women are predisposed to developing the disease, allowing them to be monitored more closely than others. 

With more 55,000 new cases every year, breast cancer is the most common type of the disease in the UK. In the US it affects 270,000 people every year.

DNA, the blueprint for the human body, carries genetic information and has all the instructions that a living organism needs to grow, reproduce and function.

There are more than 350 DNA 'errors' that make women prone to developing breast cancer, research by Cambridge University suggests (stock)

There are more than 350 DNA 'errors' that make women prone to developing breast cancer, research by Cambridge University suggests (stock)

Humans contains between 20,000-25,000 genes – 99.9 per cent of which are identical from person to person.

The other 0.1 per cent of genetic variants are what make people unique, altering their hair colour, skin tone or even the shape of their face.

But these changes can also have profound negative effects, including increasing individuals' susceptibility to disease.

Most diseases, including breast cancer, are complex and no single genetic variant or gene causes them.

WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?  

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Each year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases, and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it strikes 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the .

When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is called an 'invasive' breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with 'carcinoma in situ', where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in women over the age of 50 but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though this is rare.

Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

The cancerous cells are graded from low, which means a slow growth, to high, which is fast growing. High grade cancers are more likely to come back after they have first been treated.

What causes breast cancer?

A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply 'out of control'.

Although breast

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