Can New Blood Test Detect Breast Cancer's Return?

Early detection has been the key for arresting the spread of lethal diseases such as cancer for more than six decades. Earlier than early detection, however, is another powerful scenario that is altogether more promising and hopeful to those who live in the shadow-land of breast cancer remission and the fear of its return. British researchers have developed a new blood test that although still in the early stages of research, can detect breast cancer DNA months before any medical scan can recognize it.


Breast Cancer Blood Test: Source: VoaNewsBreast Cancer Blood Test: Source: VoaNews


Breast cancer and a new important study

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. It is estimated that 1 in every 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and that by the end of 2015, 23,840 new cases will be diagnosed. One of the biggest  hurdles in the treatment of breast cancer concerns the risk level for recurrence, which usually occurs two years after treatment. A new blood test may be the way to confront this important challenge.

A recent study involving 55 English women analyzed abnormal DNA in early breast cancer tumors and identified mutations that were present. After isolating them, researchers developed a blood test, which follows the blood in these women to see if their cancer had returned. The results of the study were published in Science Translation Medicine and indicated that women who tested positive for breast cancer tumor DNA after having surgery and chemotherapy were twelve times as likely to experience a recurrence compared to women who tested negative.

Scientific implications of this study

There is no underestimating the importance of having the medical insight to predict the metastasis of cancer cells  before the dsease spreads beyond the tumor site. Professor Mitch Dorsett of the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation told the press: "By using mutation tracking, we can see whether after surgery there is disease present in that patient that we couldn't actually detect with our normal imaging approaches. This new technique will allow us to begin to measure whether or not that disease is coming through before it actually reveals itself. It's far more sensitive and very specific."

Professor Dowsett

Professor Dowsett has a long-standing interest in breast cancer and his many studies have focused on the role hormones play in this disease, which have led to the clinical development of aromatase inhibitors, which are now considered to be the most effective endocrine agents for post-menopausal women. He firmly believes that the pre-surgical stage is the most informative for the in vivo study of breast cancer biology and therapeutic strategies.


New Blood test: Source: FacebookNew Blood test: Source: Facebook


The future fo this new and exciting blood test

Researchers call this special blood test a "liquid biopsy." It's unique application of mutation tracking can identify the risk for recurrence on an average of seven months before a traditional biopsy. The idea of "mapping DNA" could  well be an answer to earlier disease prevention. Building on the results of this important study, Dowsett believes the research team will plan a larger study next year.

It may still be a few years away before this amazing test will be available to cancer survivors, but the hope it represents shines like a beacon for those afflicted with this terrible disease.

Closing thoughts on cancer research:

I keep dreaming of a future with a long and healthy life, not lived in the shadow of cancer but in the light. ~ Patrick Swayze

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