A NEW marker could potentially be used in order to diagnose fatal breast cancer up to a year earlier according to new research.
According to the study- conducted by researchers at University College London and published in Genome Medicine, the team found a region of DNA called EFC#93 showed abnormal patterns of DNA methylation in breast cancer samples.
Researchers said these patterns were present in blood serum before the cancer becomes detectable in the breast.
Researcher Martin Widschwendter said the discovery could potentially lead to the possibility of exploring individualised treatment options which could begin before any radiological evidence was found in the breast.
"We found that the presence of EFC#93 DNA methylation in blood serum correctly identified 43 per cent of women who went on to be diagnosed with fatal breast cancer within three to six months of giving serum samples," he said.
He added 25 per cent of the women went on to be diagnosed within six to twelve months.
DNA methylation involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA, which often effects gene expression.
Abnormal DNA methylation is common in human tumours and changes occur very early in breast cancer development.
The authors stressed that a lack of appropriate serum samples could put key limitations on the study.
Blood samples that are not immediately processed and collected in a special tube contain large traces of normal "background" DNA leaked by white blood cells.