Scientists have developed a new genetic test for breast cancer able to determine the risk of developing the disease, regardless of family history.

The test is based on 77 genetic markers, and was found to be much more accurate in defining risk than previous tests using fewer markers.

In a study involving more than 65,000 women, led by The Institute of Cancer Research and The University of Cambridge, researchers allocated a ‘score’ for each woman based on these markers, and found a significant link between this score and breast cancer risk.

The genetic score was particularly good at predicting risk in women who developed oestrogen receptor positive disease, the type of disease most responsive to hormonal treatments like tamoxifen, the findings showed.

The study suggests that using this genetic testing alongside current measures would make current risk screening methods more accurate, and the researchers are hoping that its widespread use in healthcare could help women make a more informed choice on informed choice on treatment and prevention.

“This type of testing could fit alongside other standard risk measures, such as family history and body mass index, to improve our ability to target the best preventive treatments and advice to those women most likely to benefit from them,” noted study co-leader Professor Montserrat Garcia-Closas, Professor of Epidemiology at the ICR.