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Women With Breast Cancer Can Now USE IVF To Spare Their Daughters

lies that have suffered genetic disease in several generations. Expecting the first application for a licence to perform PGD for breast cancer, Paul Serhal, of University College Hospital in London, has already seen ten patients with BRCA genes who want the procedure, and other clinics are also ready to conduct it.

The Times had in 2004 disclosed that Mr Serhal had won the first HFEA licence to screen embryos for a form of bowel tumour that affects 90% of those who inherit the gene. He has also received a licence to screen for the eye cancer retinoblastoma. He said that it would be hard for the HFEA to justify refusing permission to screen for the BRCA and HNPCC genes, given its earlier decisions. He explained that this procedure has the potential to reduce the incidence of serious diseases and also reduce the costs as far as ongoing medical care is concerned.

Extending this to look for the breast cancer genes would be a significant step for three reasons. First the genes are not an automatic death sentence: each results in an 80% risk of developing breast cancer. But unlike cystic fibrosis, breast cancer is treatable and can be prevented by mastectomy. And it kills much later - in a woman's 30s or 40s - so an embryo that is destroyed might have lived until then.

Stating that medicine is about caring not about killing, Josephine Qintavalle of the lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, which opposes all uses of PGD stated that the right approach would be to learn more about the cancer and how to curing it.

The fertility doctors were quick to disagree. Simon Fishel, managing director of CARE, a group of fertility clinics stated that if families would wish to eliminate the threat of serious cancer from their family they should be at liberty to do so. Joan Finlayson, 47, from Arbroath, who finished nine months of excruciating treatment in September involving chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. She stated that she w
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