By The Institute of Cancer Research
Scientists have developed a blood test for breast cancer able to identify which patients will suffer a relapse after treatment, months before tumours are visible on hospital scans.
The test can uncover small numbers of residual cancer cells that have resisted therapy by detecting cancer DNA in the bloodstream.
Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust were able to track key mutations that cancer accumulates as it develops and spreads, without the need for invasive biopsy procedures.
They hope that by deciphering the DNA code found in blood samples, it should be possible to identify the particularly mutations likely to prove lethal to that patient – and tailor treatment accordingly.
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is an important step towards use of ‘liquid biopsies’ to revolutionise breast cancercare – by changing the way cancer is monitored in the clinic and informing treatment decisions.
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