Women's Health

New Marker Could Detect Fatal Breast Cancer Earlier

How SNA methylation was used for testing

To test for abnormalities in the blood, the research team at University College London took to a process called DNA methylation. This method involves adding a methyl group—a simple and basic carbon compound—to DNA found in the blood cells. Researchers then examine the ways in which the methyl group affects the DNA of blood cells, usually by looking for the ways that the process changes gene expression.

Abnormal DNA methylation has long been known to be one of the earliest and most common risk factors in human tumors. In breast cancer, abnormal DNA methylation can occur particularly early. The significance of the study performed by the research team at University College London is that performing the DNA methylation before chemotherapy resulted in abnormal DNA methylation results before cancerous tumors could even be detected.