The secret to curing breast cancer once and for all could lie in research from London – mutation tracking could mean earlier detection.
Any victory, no matter how seemingly small it may be, is important when battling something as powerful and destructive as cancer. Each time a step forward is taken, it deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Over the years, there have been countless losses to cancer, but each loss in the has helped us expand our knowledge of how it works, and how it can be stopped. A technique to detect relapses in breast cancer was developed by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, and their revolutionary blood test deserves recognition.
As ICR reported, the blood test they developed can reveal small numbers of residual cancer cells that have previously otherwise escaped detection by all other testing methods. The significance of this test is that after treatment has completed, doctors will know months in advance which patients will relapse. This is a huge step forward from the days of waiting to see if tumors showed up on scans.
This technique is known as “mutation tracking”. The way this works is that the doctors conducting the research collected blood samples from 55 patients that were potentially cured of breast cancer and who also chemotherapy and a follow-up surgery. After the initial sample collection and monitoring, new samples were collected every six months for monitoring for potential relapses.
Upon completion of the initial study, the results were extraordinarily promising. Of the women who had initial samples that were positive for circulating tumor DNA, those participants were twelve times more likely to relapse than shoes with a negative initial test. More than that, the detection time was an average 7.9 months prior to any visible evidence of relapse.
As breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, and the second most deadly, this breakthrough is of the utmost importance in the battle against cancer. This can potentially open the doors that lead to other forms of early detection. In the here and now, this testing could potentially have a monumental impact on the well-being of patients who have had breast cancer since most will relapse at some point.
Dr. Nick Turner is featured in the video below. He is the team leader of molecular oncology at IRC and a leader behind this ground breaking research. In this video, he explains their discovery clearly and concisely and it is well worth the time to watch so that you may have a better understanding of the inner workings of their methodology.