Blood Test May Predict Breast Cancer
October 3, 2012

DNA Blood Test Developed To Predict Breast Cancer

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from the University of Leicester and Imperial College London recently revealed that, with a simple blood test, they could identify DNA in blood that possibly relates to early signs of cancer.

The team of investigators believe that, if further developed, the test could be used to accurately predict early diagnosis of cancer and be used in place of mammograms. With the blood test, researchers will also have a better understanding of how to treat patients as the test will display which drugs are working for patients and whether the patient will have a relapse. The exam will be part of a new clinical study that studies patients at the breast screening clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

"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. 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,” explained Dr. Jacqui Shaw, the principal investigator from the University of Leicester, in a prepared statement. "As things stand we aren't able to monitor breast cancer patients after they've had surgery and treatment - which is like treating diabetes but not measuring blood sugar levels. The new blood test could change that.”

At the breast screening clinic, scientists will take blood samples and analyze the DNA in the blood of female patients who have cancer along with the blood of female patients who do not have cancer.

"This type of translational science is extremely promising and the international scientific community is collaborating on its development. When a woman has breast cancer we can tell by the DNA in their blood. 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,” commented co-investigator Charles Coombes, a cancer expert from Imperial College London, in the statement. "Our research team is only looking at breast cancer but there are a number of other projects that are looking at using a blood test to detect other cancers such as bowel and lung."

The project was supported through £1.4 million in funding from Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Other research projects from the organization have included contributions from over 4,000 doctors, scientists and nurses.

"We really do hope that in the not too distant future a simple blood test for breast cancer, which could not only detect cancer but help with treatment options, will become standard practice on the NHS,” noted Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, in the statement. "Cancer Research UK has invested over a million pounds into this project as this fascinating area of science could prove to be a huge step forward in the way certain types of cancer are diagnosed and treated.”