Test could pre­dict can­cer re­turn: study

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

An ex­per­i­men­tal blood test may be able to pre­dict whether a woman with breast can­cer will suf­fer a re­lapse months be­fore new tu­mors would be de­tectable on scans, re­searchers said Wed­nes­day.

The tech­nol­ogy, de­scribed in the jour­nal Science Trans­la­tional Medicine, works by de­tect­ing can­cer DNA that cir­cu­lates in the blood­stream.

While the test is not yet avail­able to the public, and likely will not be for years to come, re­searchers are hope­ful that it could help re­fine per­son­al­ized treat­ments for can­cer and per­haps lead sci­en­tists fur­ther down the path of find­ing a cure one day.

“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 cur- rently,” said study au­thor Ni­cholas Turner, team leader in molec­u­lar on­col­ogy at The In­sti­tute of Can­cer Re­search, Lon­don.

“Ours in the first study to show that these blood tests could be used to pre­dict re­lapse,” he added.

Sci­en­tists took tu­mor and blood sam­ples from 55 breast can­cer pa­tients with early-stage dis­ease. Each of the pa­tients had re­ceived chemo­ther­apy and surgery to re­move the can­cer.

The blood test was ad­min­is­tered fol­low­ing surgery and ev­ery six months af­ter­ward as a fol­low-up.

Of the 15 women who saw their can­cer re­turn, the test ac­cu­rately pre­dicted that re­lapse in 12 of them.

The test also de­tected can­cer an av­er­age of about eight months ear­lier than the tu­mors were vis­i­bly de­tectable on con­ven­tional scans.

The tech­nique uses per­sonal- ized dig­i­tal poly­merase chain re­ac­tion ( dPCR) tests to track mu­ta­tions and could be ap­plied to all sub­types of breast can­cer, the study said.

Turner said there are some tech­ni­cal chal­lenges to im­ple­ment­ing the tech­nol­ogy, “but dig­i­tal PCR is rel­a­tively cost-ef­fec­tive and the in­for­ma­tion that it pro­vides could make a real dif­fer­ence to breast can­cer pa­tients.”

Breast can­cer is di­ag­nosed early in 95 per­cent of cases, but know­ing whether or not treat­ment is able to re­move all signs of can­cer is key to pre­vent­ing the tu­mors from re­turn­ing and spread­ing else­where in the body.

“It will be some years be­fore the test could po­ten­tially be avail­able in hos­pi­tals, but we hope to bring this date closer by con­duct­ing much larger clin­i­cal tri­als start­ing next year,” Turner said.

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