Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among American women today. Beating the disease is the best feeling in the world for a breast cancer patient. But women also need to be aware of the possibility of a relapse.
CBS news reports on a special new blood test. This test could help show women whether they are truly out of the danger zone.
Experts are calling it the liquid biopsy.
It was developed at the Institute of Cancer Research in London as a kind of blood test that shows promise in detecting cancer DNA in the blood before the cells grow into tumors. The findings of a practice round study of the test were published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The test can detect cancer around 7.9 months before traditional biopsies.
Professor Mitch Dowsett of the Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust commented on the study to CBS. He said,
“By tracking that, we can see whether after surgery there is disease present in that patient that we couldn't actually detect with our normal imaging approaches. It's far more sensitive and it's actually very specific.”
Experts are saying the blood test they developed can find an individual's particular circulating tumor DNA, or ctDNA, matched to the cancer for which they were treated. Prior studies have also indicated that mapping cancer DNA could be one of the keys to earlier disease detection.
How was this study conducted?
The research team followed around 55 English women who were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and then treated with chemotherapy and surgery.
“The researchers monitored ctDNA in the women's blood tests after surgery and every six months using the DNA profiles of each individual's specific pre-treatment cancer cells. In 54 of the 55 women, researchers were able to accurately predict relapse risk based on ctDNA levels,” according to CBS news.
Statistics show that breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, not including skin cancers, and more importantly it is the second most deadly cancer in women. The research shows 95 percent of women diagnosed have early stage breast cancer that does not appear to have spread. After treatment plans have been finished, there are sometimes undetected, left over cancer cells.
Dowsett said, “This new technique will allow us to begin to measure whether or not that disease is coming through before it actually reveals itself. Building on these results, the team plans a larger study next year. It could be a few years before the blood tests are widely available to cancer survivors.”