Sunday, July 21, 2024

New blood test to predict breast cancer

In a significant move towards earlier detection and treatment of breast cancer, British researchers have created an “ultra-sensitive” blood test that can predict cancer recurrence years before it appears on scans, potentially improving survival rates. This test identifies traces of the tumor’s DNA before a full relapse occurs and has been reported to be 100 percent accurate in predicting cancer return, according to the BBC.

Although experts have called this development “incredibly exciting,” it is still in its initial phases.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally, with 2.26 million women diagnosed and 685,000 deaths in 2020, according to Breast Cancer UK.

Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) London conducted a trial on 78 early breast cancer patients, using a test to detect 1,800 mutations in the patient’s blood released by cancer cells. Circulating tumor DNA was found in 11 women, all of whom experienced cancer relapse, while no other women saw their cancer return.

The blood test, on average, detected cancer 15 months before symptoms appeared or the illness showed up on scans, with the earliest detection at 41 months, as presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago on Sunday.

Lead researcher Dr. Isaac Garcia-Murillas from the ICR stated that breast cancer cells can remain post-surgery and treatment, undetectable on scans, but can cause relapse years later. The study, which tested blood samples at diagnosis, post-surgery, post-chemotherapy, then every three months for a year and every six months for five years, aims to improve post-treatment monitoring and potentially extend patients’ lives.

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