The study looked at a DNA signature that was found in blood samples of women with the faulty BRCA gene, which is known to greatly increase a person’s risk of breast cancer. Interestingly, they also discovered that this DNA signature was found in blood samples from people who did not carry this faulty gene but were later diagnosed with breast cancer.

This is very early research so work is now beginning to see if these findings could one day be rolled out for routine use.

Dr Matthew Lam, Senior Research Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer says:

"These results are definitely promising and we're excited to learn how further research could build on these findings. This could mean that in the future a woman may be able to have a simple blood test to look for this DNA signature, and therefore know if she is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If she does have this signature, she could then work with her doctor to explore the options available to help her take control of her own risk. These could include lifestyle changes, tailored breast screening, risk-reducing drugs or surgery.

“DNA signatures such as this have the potential to add an extra layer of accuracy in the way we are able to assess a woman's individual risk of breast cancer and we are eager to learn more in this area. That is why we launched the Breakthrough Generations Study, the world's largest and most comprehensive study of its kind looking in to the root causes of breast cancer, which has also found DNA signatures in blood samples that can predict breast cancer risk."