A pioneering mouth swab test will help women find out if they are at risk of breast cancer, doctors announced today.

The genetic test will make it possible to get an accurate personal measure of lifetime risk of contracting breast cancer, its makers claimed.

Results from the test will allow specialists to develop a personalised screening programme based on an individual's genetic risk and personal circumstances.

Professor Gordon Wishart, Medical Director of Breasthealth UK, said: "It is emerging that breast cancer is not one but a number of different diseases.

"Although genetic testing is still a relatively young technique, when combined with proven methods to elicit lifestyle and family history factors, it can provide breast surgeons with new insights into detection and prevention of this disease."

The Breasthealth Risk Assessment Service will be available privately.

The genetic test looks at variations at seven gene sites or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that can help determine individual cancer risk.

A woman's chance of getting breast cancer can vary more than sixfold because of her genetic inheritance.

Mr Wishart added: "By introducing the test within a clinical environment it will be possible to evaluate it with real women and provide the evidence base that is needed for wider adoption of this technology."

Data from a mouth swab will be combined with medical and family history factors to develop a picture of an individual's lifetime risk of contracting breast cancer.

Jackie Harris, a specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: "This new test from Breasthealth UK, combined with comprehensive clinical trials, can only add to our understanding of this.

"However, services already exist within the NHS for assessing risk based on family history and anyone with concerns should see their GP, who can also give advice on lifestyle choices and breast cancer risk."