A new study in the Journal of Proteome Research suggests that a blood test may detect breast cancer at its earliest stage. The test was able to diagnose 95 percent of cancers in 345 women. Around 500,000 people succumb to breast cancer each year and it is crucial to detect it early.
The new test measures some proteins in order to get a cancer fingerprint. Existing tests depend on breast examinations, mammograms and biopsies in order to diagnose cancer. However by the time it is accurately diagnosed, it may be too late.
The new test detects very small changes in concentrations of proteins in the blood. Some proteins are specifically found in breast tissue, the test detects these. The researchers suggest that by switching around proteins, other cancers may be detected as well.
"Our pilot studies show that using blood samples, breast cancer and several other types of epithelial cancers can be detected with much better sensitivity and specificity," said Professor Jasminka Godovac-Zimmermann of UCL. "This may allow new, less intrusive, safer and much less expensive approaches for the early diagnosis of cancer, for distinguishing malignant and benign cancers, and for monitoring cancer therapy."
Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK's professor of screening said the test looked interesting. "These are very interesting results which may have far-reaching implications for diagnosing breast cancer in the long term," he added. "Further research involving an independent group of patients and healthy volunteers is needed to validate these results, and to find out if the test is equally accurate for diagnosing early breast cancer as well as advanced disease."