British cancer specialists have launched what they say could soon lead to a simple blood test to detect early signs of breast cancer that is more accurate, convenient, and less expensive than using mammograms to spot a lump.
The clinical study, announced as Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets underway, will start in the U.K.'s largest breast screening clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, London, and is funded by Cancer Research U.K., the University of Leicester, and Imperial College London.
Researchers will seek to determine whether signature DNA markers in women’s blood could show early signs of cancer, which could fast-track treatments that improve patients' survival odds. They also hope the blood test could improve treatment by detecting whether patients are likely to relapse and what drugs their particular type of tumors may respond to.SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
For the study, researchers will take blood samples from women attending the breast screening clinic and compare the DNA in the blood of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer with those who do not have the disease.
"This exciting research means we could one day have a blood test that detects the very early signs of cancer, meaning women could have an annual blood test rather than breast screening,” said Dr. Jacqui Shaw, principal investigator from the University of Leicester. “This would remove any worry and anxiety for women who are called for further investigations after a mammogram only to find they don't have cancer.”
Charles Coombes, a co-investigator with Cancer Research U.K., called the work “extremely promising” and said it could reshape breast cancer diagnosis and treatment around the world.
“When a woman has breast cancer we can tell by the DNA in their blood,” he said. “But what we're trying to find out in our study is how early the signs of breast cancer show up in a blood test. So by looking at blood samples of women who have breast cancer diagnosed through screening we can see if the cancer is already showing in their blood.”SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.