Cancer relapse may be diagnosed through blood test, study suggests
As totally removing tumours is impossible, due to the cancerous cells that may spread into the bloodstream before diagnosis, many cancers can return, even after surgery. Early detection of cancer relapse can be of vital importance.
Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London found traces of breast cancer eight months before doctors would normally have noticed.
55 patients with a high risk of relapse were included in the study of the Institute of Cancer Research in London. The scientists looked for specific DNA cell mutations in the blood. 12 out of the 15 women who relapsed with breast cancer were diagnosed in the trial.
Early detection of cancer return can have significant importance in final outcome of the disease. More rapid treatments after the diagnosis (including chemotherapy) can increase survival chances in relapsed patients.
“The key question is are we identifying that these women are at risk of relapse early enough that we could give treatments that could prevent the relapse? That is unknown from this research and we hope to address it in future studies. [But] we’re really talking about a principle that could potentially be applied to any cancer that has gone through initial treatment for which there’s a risk of relapse in the future”, Dr. Nicholas Turner declared for the BBC News.
Underlining the importance of the study and that a blood test could be more rapid, easier to use and cheaper than analysing mutated DNA, Dr. Nick Peel, from Cancer Research UK, added: “Finding less invasive ways of diagnosing and monitoring cancer is really important and blood samples have emerged as one possible way of gathering crucial information about a patient’s disease by fishing for fragments of tumour DNA or rogue cancer cells released into their bloodstream. But there is some way to go before this could be developed into a test that doctors could use routinely, and doing so is never simple.”
Further research is yet needed until researchers will find a way to create a blood test that could diagnose cancer relapse and be used in hospitals all over the world.