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Could This Blood Test Replace Mammography?

October 2, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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British researchers are trying to get rid of mammography.

Well, that may be a bit overdramatic. But they are definitely working on a blood test that could replace mammography as the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer.

Said Charles Coombes, MD, PhD, one of the researchers:

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.

If those signs show up early enough, then a blood test could replace mammography as the primary screening tool.

Dr. Coombes directs the oncology department at Imperial College School of Medicine, London. He was quoted in a news release from Cancer Research UK, a cancer-fighting charity in the United Kingdom.

The blood test might also improve treatment by detecting markers indicating which patients are likely to relapse and which drugs or other therapies might best treat each patient’s particular type of tumor.

A clinical study is about to begin at the largest breast screening clinic in the United Kingdom, at Charing Cross Hospital in London. Researchers will take blood samples from women arriving for mammography screening. The DNA in the blood of women who turn out to have cancer will be compared with that of women who don’t.

Similar tests could screen for other kinds of cancer, Dr. Coombes said. “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.”

Cancer Research UK apparently thinks the test shows promise. Kate Law, director of clinical research for the charity, said:

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.

Related seminar: Breast Imaging and Intervention: A Comprehensive Review (discount and free shipping and handling for a limited time)

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