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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
swab image via Shutterstock
Every Little Helps

Here's how your DNA could help breast cancer research

Researchers will take swabs from willing volunteers on Tuesday to help in a study looking at cell mutations.

THE NATIONAL BREAST Cancer Institute (NBCRI) is asking people to donate a sample of their DNA to help research into mutations in breast cancer cells.

The institute will be asking those attending Active Retirement Ireland’s Trade and Tourism show in the Raddison Blu Hotel in Galway on Tuesday between 10am and 6pm. A cheek swab will be taken from anyone willing to volunteer their DNA.

The aim of the study being conducted is to investigate the DNA of patients with breast cancer and examine whether certain mutations might account for the unexplained risk behind its development in a significant proportion of breast cancer cases. To do this they need to compare the DNA of patients with breast cancer with those that have an apparently low, or zero, cancer risk (ie no genetic mutation) and see what the differences are.

The risk oof breast cancer increases with every decade until the age of 60 where it starts to plateau off and then decrease. Also, as cancers associated with genetic mutations mostly tend to affect patients at younger ages, NBCRI are targeting women over 60 years of age to act as ‘low/zero genetic risk patients’ in the control group to help them.

These extracted DNA samples are tested for genetic mutations in the specific genes that they are investigating, then analysed and compared with the cancer cells to see if the mutation is specifically associated with breast cancer.

To take part in the project you should be female over 60 years of age with no personal history of cancer and no first degree family member with breast or ovarian cancer. Donating DNA is quick and easy.

Samples are anonymised so the team cannot provide individual results, but any research articles containing results from this project will be available to the public on the NBCRI website

Located to the left of the entrance of the Hotel on the day, the NBCRI research team will be on hand to receive any DNA donations from those attending the Active Retirement Show or any members of the public who wish to stop by and donate DNA to the project. If you would like to make a DNA donation but are unable to attend the event on Tuesday, you can still take part by, contacting Dr Terri McVeigh at (091) 524390 or email

Read: Breast cancer patients who stop oral hormone therapy at threefold risk of recurrence>

Read: Twin with breast cancer donates skin and fat tissue to sister who also has cancer>

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