An experimental breakthrough in blood testing could be able to predict a breast cancer relapse earlier than ever before.
The study is focused on gathering data about technology that locates cancer DNA in the blood before tumors would be visible on traditional detection scans.
The first study of its kind, the technology takes on an important challenge in modern medicine by addressing how to uncover returning cancer cells.
The detection technology is described in a study outlined in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It uses mutation tracking to find circulating tumor DNA in the blood.
The study focused on finding traces of disease by locating cancer cells that were left behind. By looking for stragglers, health professionals can find residual cancer cells that would develop into new tumors even after treatment.
The researchers took tumor and blood samples from 55 patients with early stages of breast cancer who had previously received chemotherapy or other surgical cancer treatments. The samples were tested immediately after a treatment session and then again every six months to follow-up and track the disease.
The test discovered a cancer relapse in 12 out of the 15 women whose cancer returned. It found the recurrence of cancer about eight months before tumors would be detectable on standard PET and CT scans.
The medical breakthrough is clear: this is the first blood test that could be used to predict a cancer relapse.
“We have shown how a simple blood test has the potential to accurately predict which patients will relapse from breast cancer, much earlier than we can currently,” said study author Nicholas Turner, team leader in molecular oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.
The Future Of Cancer Detection
The researchers faced some technical challenges when implementing the technology, but ultimately believe that it is a fairy cost-effective test. It is important to remember that although price comes into play, it isn’t as important when life-saving technology is put on the table.
Although the detection technology will not be available for many years, the goal is to continue to personalize cancer treatments down the road. The ultimate hope is to find a cure, with many believing the medical breakthrough is another step in the right direction.
“Such unprecedented early prediction could allow for intervention before the reappearance of cancer in high-risk patients. In addition, the authors were able to shed light on the genetic events driving such metastases, by massively parallel sequencing of the ctDNA, which could inform new drug-based therapies on the basis of the patients’ individual mutations,” according to the study.
Researchers will be conducting more clinical trials in the coming years.
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