An international team of scientists has predicted the chances of women developing breast cancer by looking for errors in their DNA.

The findings, which were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, could transform screening, preventative treatments and even Hormone Replacement Therapy.

The team, led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London and the University of Cambridge, analysed 77 genes which individually had a low impact on the risk of developing cancer but made a powerful combination, allowing scientists to calculate the probability of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer.

In the UK, genetic tests which are already available to patients are currently restricted to women with the very highest risk of developing breast cancer.

Corrina Mottram, a clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Chelmsford office, said: “Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. Anything that can be done to reduce the number of breast cancer incidents is a vital step forward in the fight faced by too many women in the UK each year.

“Extensive research and technological advancements like this mean that the fight against breast cancer is progressing and success rates are improving year-on-year. However, the reality is that some women do not receive the treatment they deserve and are victims of misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis.

“This discovery will mean that women most at risk of developing breast cancer can be identified and measures can be taken to reduce their chance of developing the disease and begin treatment at the earliest stage.

“We would like to see similar investment put into research into all types of cancer. This would hopefully result in the same kind of advances in diagnosis and would allow doctors to diagnose and treat all types of cancers at the earliest possible stage.”