Women may not have to undergo mammograms as frequently as it is being required at present. With a simple saliva test, scientists claim that breast cancer risk may be detected.

An emergent research project, which targets gene-based diagnosis, has just been initiated, possibly empowering health professionals to determine how strongly their patients may develop breast cancer in the future.

The endeavor, led by Professor Gareth Evans, scientific director at the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, is looking at sequencing 94 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), which are single base-pair discrepancies in the DNA of individual members of the same species. By looking at SNPs, scientists may be able to identify those who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, as these do not only include those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene changes. Even without a family history of breast cancer or a significant breast cancer gene mutation, this new diagnostic method may help predict an individual's level of risk.

The outcomes of the project may limit women's mammogram appointments and subsequently alter the manner with which NHS provides breast cancer testings. With the potentially new technique, mammogram schedules will be given based on women's breast cancer risk as detected through the saliva test. Rather than seeing a flock of women in clinics every three years, patients would be asked for a follow-up at certain times depending on a baseline mammogram and the DNA test. This means that care is personalized and low-risk women would not be required to undergo frequent screenings that they do not actually need.

"This research has the potential to change the way we screen for breast cancer in the UK to make it smarter and more effective," said Evans.

Lester Barr, a consultant breast surgeon and the founder of breast cancer charity Genesis, said that if cancer is detected during a routine health check-up, prognosis is excellent and cure rates range from 90-95 percent. He added that it is definitely important for people to go to their health appointments.

When a woman finds a breast lump by herself, chances are the cancer is already in its late stages and thus is more challenging to treat.

In the end, Evans concluded that gene studies are critical components of foreseeing breast cancer. Amendments to the current diagnostic process will be a major factor in determining patients with high risk. Evan's team is said to be working closely with NHS to trace the outcomes of the research and hopefully individualize the screening protocols for the upcoming generations.

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