A new breast cancer blood test can detect changes to tumour DNA. Could lead to life-extending treatments for women with late stage breast cancer.
The breast cancer blood test is being referred to as “liquid biopsy”. It can detect and track alterations in 13 different genes.
The advancement is still in its earliest stages.
But, Scientists are hoping that it could allow doctors to create personalised treatments for women based on the particular development of their illness.
For example, if the test finds mutations to a patient’s HER2 gene, it could be targeted with the drug Herceptin.
Breast cancer is the common type of cancer in the UK with around 150 new cases diagnosed every day.
Around 10 per cent of women have stage four breast cancer at the time of their diagnosis. The average survival rate is around two years.
Dr David Guttery, from the University of Leicester, described the blood test as “novel”. He said, “By analysing blood plasma to measure for cancer-specific changes to key breast cancer genes – including the HER2 and oestrogen receptor genes – we hope this test could help doctors and patients choose the best treatment at the best time.
“We have developed a novel blood test that can simultaneously detect somatic mutations and copy number alterations that are integral in driving the growth of breast cancer.
“This study represents proof of concept, and further validation is now needed to confirm the clinical usefulness of this test before any test could be rolled out.”
Dr Justine Alford, Senior Science Information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said that the advancements could help patients in the later stages of breast cancer. She said, “The researchers may have developed a way to track breast cancer as it grows, allowing doctors to act swiftly and give patients the treatments that are right for them as early as possible.”
This development is incredibly positive. We are hopeful that the advancements continue so that the treatment options for serious cases of breast cancer improve dramatically.
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