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Br J Cancer. 2011 May 10;104(10):1656-63. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.118. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Polygenic susceptibility to prostate and breast cancer: implications for personalised screening.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, University Forvie Site, Robinson way, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK.



We modelled the efficiency of a personalised approach to screening for prostate and breast cancer based on age and polygenic risk-profile compared with the standard approach based on age alone.


We compared the number of cases potentially detectable by screening in a population undergoing personalised screening with a population undergoing screening based on age alone. Polygenic disease risk was assumed to have a log-normal relative risk distribution predicted for the currently known prostate or breast cancer susceptibility variants (N=31 and N=18, respectively).


Compared with screening men based on age alone (aged 55-79: 10-year absolute risk ≥2%), personalised screening of men age 45-79 at the same risk threshold would result in 16% fewer men being eligible for screening at a cost of 3% fewer screen-detectable cases, but with added benefit of detecting additional cases in younger men at high risk. Similarly, compared with screening women based on age alone (aged 47-79: 10-year absolute risk ≥2.5%), personalised screening of women age 35-79 at the same risk threshold would result in 24% fewer women being eligible for screening at a cost of 14% fewer screen-detectable cases.


Personalised screening approach could improve the efficiency of screening programmes. This has potential implications on informing public health policy on cancer screening.

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