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New mouth swab test to assess breast cancer risk

Woman can now find out if they have increased risk of breast cancer through a simple mouth swab test, it has been announced

The company that developed the test, Breasthealth UK, claims the genetic test will make it possible to get an accurate personal measure of lifetime risk of contracting breast cancer.

The Breasthealth Risk Assessment Service, available privately, will help specialists develop personalised screening programmes based on an individual's genetic risk, according to the firm.

Medical director of Breasthealth UK, Professor Gordon Wishart, said: "It is emerging that breast cancer is not one but a number of different diseases.

"Although genetic testing is still a relatively young technique, when combined with proven methods to elicit lifestyle and family history factors, it can provide breast surgeons with new insights into detection and prevention of this disease."

Experts say a woman's genetic inheritance can increase the likelihood of her developing the disease by a factor of six.

The genetic test looks at variations at seven gene sites or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that can help determine individual cancer risk.

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