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Lead author Danielle Whitham, at Clarkson University in the US, said: “Although mammograms are a useful tool for catching breast cancer early, they aren’t typically recommended for low-risk women under 40.
“Because the biomarkers we found are also detectable in blood serum, screening could potentially be done in women of any age using blood or breast milk.”
The newly identified biomarkers are for a specific type of the disease called invasive ductal carcinoma, one of the most common types of breast cancers.
However, the researchers say their approach could be used to identify biomarkers for other types of breast cancer.
Ms Whitham sad: “If our future studies are successful, it could change how women are monitored for breast cancer and aid in earlier diagnosis. This could even lead to a higher survival rate in women.”
For the study, breast milk samples from three women diagnosed with breast cancer were compared with milk from three women without cancer.
Differences included proteins shown to play a role in cancer or tumour development.
Now researchers plan to confirm the findings with a larger group of women.
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