Ultra-sensitive blood test advances breast cancer detection

Wednesday 10th July 2024 06:58 EDT

A new "ultra-sensitive" blood test shows promise in predicting breast cancer recurrence before it appears on mammograms. The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London conducted a trial on 78 patients with early breast cancer, demonstrating that this test can detect recurrence and predict disease relapse years in advance, potentially before it becomes untreatable.

Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, Visiting Consultant in Breast Onco Surgery and Bariatric Surgery at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, stated that while circulating tumour cells and tumour DNA can be microscopically detected in blood, they are mostly found in advanced breast cancers. Detecting these cells in early-stage breast cancer poses significant challenges.

According to research, a specific blood test uses advanced technologies to detect tumour cells in the bloodstream. Dr Tirathram Kaushik, Consultant Oncosurgeon at Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road, highlighted that early detection of these cells can significantly aid in prompt diagnosis, improving treatment outcomes and life expectancy. While traditional methods like mammograms and biopsies are useful, they may miss early-stage cancer. The ultra-sensitive blood test offers promise in monitoring and detecting breast cancer growth, though further research is needed to validate its effectiveness. Potential benefits and risks should be discussed with healthcare providers for informed decision-making.

The "ultra-sensitive" liquid biopsy uses whole genome sequencing to detect genetic faults in a patient's DNA, potentially indicating cancer and detecting tumour DNA traces early, before relapse becomes difficult to treat. Lead researcher Dr Isaac Garcia-Murillas explained that even after treatment, breast cancer cells may remain in the body in small numbers undetectable by scans, leading to potential relapse years later. Ultra-sensitive blood tests offer a promising method for long-term monitoring of high-risk patients.

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