A correlation between the presence of breast cancer and a change in the synchrotron-generated X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern of hair has been reported in several publications by different groups, and on average XRD-based assays detect around 75% of breast cancer patients in blinded studies. To date, the molecular mechanisms leading to this alteration are largely unknown. We have determined that the alteration is likely to be due to the presence of one or more breast cancer-associated phospholipids. Further characterization of these lipids could be used to develop a novel, sensitive and specific screening test for breast cancer, based on hair initially, and potentially extendable to other biological samples.
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