Julia Bradbury health: Star details ‘breast cancer prevention’ test following mastectomy

Julia Bradbury reflects on her breast cancer diagnosis

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In an attempt to find out why breast cancer rates have increased “hugely” over the years, Bradbury has worked with Professor Gareth Evans, who has worked on a test known as a SNPs test, to gauge if individuals are at risk of not only breast cancers, but other types of cancer. For Bradbury, the test was also used to measure the chances of her cancer returning.

Speaking to presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield about the results she received following her test, Bradbury said: “I have a higher risk than the average woman.

“It is not super high, but it is higher than average, and it was the SNPs test that gave me this information. If I had had the snip test in my 40s, then I would have known that I was at a higher risk of breast cancer.

“I also have dense breasts, which is another sign of high risk.”

SNP profiling was first developed due to the discovery that a number of common genetic variants – single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – combine to increase breast cancer risk.

Due to this, SNP profiling enhances the accuracy of risk assessment and provides a personalised risk estimate.

Bradbury continued to explain that if she had had the test earlier in her diagnosis, she may have avoided having a mastectomy completely. She added: “When I very first discovered my lumps, which were originally diagnosed as benign cysts, there would have been more investigation.

“I probably would not have had a mastectomy because as soon as I discovered a lump, I could have had a lumpectomy.”

As Bradbury mentioned, one of the leading researchers on the topic is Professor Gareth Evans, professor of clinical genetics at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), who has stated in the past that the SNPs test can be used for: “Improvement in risk prediction, early detection and prevention of breast cancer in the NHS Breast Screening Programme and family history clinics.”

Speaking to the University of Manchester, Professor Evans added: “Although my main focus was initially breast cancer through higher risk and moderate risk genes, I am now more involved in looking at common genetic variants called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to produce something called a polygenic risk score.

“We feel that this work is ready to be used to more accurately identify those at increased risk of other cancers, so that PED can be better targeted at those at the higher levels of risk.

“Potentially, those with low levels of risk can be reassured that they actually don’t need screening, as screening might actually be more harmful than good for them.”

One of Professor Evan’s main motivations for promoting the use of a SNPs test is the cost effectiveness and savings it would have for the NHS, something which Bradbury also spoke plainly about.

She said: “If the SNPs test was available now, and it works on 50 percent of the population, it would cost the NHS about £50. Breast cancer treatment on average for every woman costs around £20,000.

“The heartache it would save, the pain it would save, the money it would save.

“It costs around £130 to have it done privately now, but there is a real drive and Professor Gareth Evans wants it to be made available through the NHS, and he is very very close.”

In a 2018 study, 39 women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer were interviewed about their feelings towards having a SNPs test. Results found that on the whole, women reported feeling positive about receiving their personalised risk profile.

This was because it: provided an explanation for their previous diagnosis of cancer, vindicated previous risk management decisions and clarified their own and other family members’ risks.

This study suggested that the provision of personalised risk information about breast cancer generated by SNP profiling is understood and well received.

At the moment, for those wanting to have a SNPs test for themselves, Professor Evans told Prevent Breast Cancer the following: “Firstly wait at least six months. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer you can then ask your GP to refer youm but this may only be possible in Greater Manchester South Cheshire and Lancashire.”

Towards the end of the interview, Bradbury gave an update about her health now, saying: “Post mastectomy, physically I am very good. Emotionally it is a very rocky road, I am still obviously very emotional and coming to terms with everything.”

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