Blood Test to identify breast cancer risk 5 years before clinical signs

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Researchers have found a blood test which can help in spotting breast cancer nearly 5 years before any clinical signs show up. The British researchers have said that specificauto antibodies of the immune system can be identified by the test.

The tumor cells in the breast produce tumor-associated antigens (TAA’s) and antibodies are produced by the immune system when it comes in contact with TAA’s. The investigators have said that the test is not fully effective and that more research has to be done. Daniyah Alfattani, researcher and a Ph.D. student at University of Nottingham’s Centre of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer (CEAC), said that the study has showed that auto antibodies are induced against specific tumor-associated antigens. They were able to accurately detect the antibodies in blood for the detection of cancer. She said that the test needs to be further validated and developed. She added that they got encouraging results and that detection of early signs of breast cancer was possible.

Samples from 90 patients of breast cancer were taken for the study and this was taken at the time of their diagnosis. 90 samples were taken from women who did not have breast cancer and was used as control group. The blood samples were tested rapidly for antibodies against 40 number of TAA’s that were related to blood cancer along with 27 TAA’s which were not found to be linked with breast cancer. In case of panels which had more TAA’s, the accuracy of blood test was more. One of the experts of breast cancer from the US who was encouraged by the findings of the study said that there is still a long way before blood tests can replace mammograms for the detection of breast cancer.

The chief of breast surgery at the Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, Dr. Lauren Cassell said that utilizing 9 TAA’s only 37% of the cases could be identified using the known samples. As such the accuracy obtained from mammograms and sonograms cannot be obtained from these blood tests. Alfattani said that a blood test for early detection would be helpful for middle and low income nations as they will be cost effective. Also the screening procedure would be simpler than mammograms.

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