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  • Innovative Blood Test May Be Able To Detect Breast Cancer Years Before Symptoms Show

    This new technique might help improve women’s chances of surviving the disease.
    by Kate Borbon .
Innovative Blood Test May Be Able To Detect Breast Cancer Years Before Symptoms Show
PHOTO BY iStock
  • New research has found that an innovative new kind of blood test can detect breast cancer even years before symptoms of it begin to manifest.

    According to Science Daily, cancer cells produce antigens, which are proteins that prompt the body to produce antibodies called autoantibodies to fight them in response.

    The researchers behind the study, who were from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, discovered that tumor-based antigens (TAAs) are good indicators of cancer. They then developed panels of TAAs that are associated with breast cancer to see if there are antibodies in blood samples collected from patients.

    The researchers took blood samples from 90 breast cancer patients at the time they were diagnosed (the cancer samples) as well as blood samples from 90 patients without breast cancer (the control samples).

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    They used technology which allowed them to screen the blood samples for the presence of antibodies against 40 TAAs associated with breast cancer and 27 TAAs not known to be associated with the disease.

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    The Scotsman reports that the accuracy of the test improved in panels containing more TAAs. A panel of five TAAs correctly detected the disease in 29% of the cancer samples and no cancer in 84% of the control samples.

    A panel of seven TAAs correctly detected the disease in 35% of the cancer samples and no cancer in 79% of the control samples.

    Finally, a panel of nine TAAs correctly detected the disease in 37% of the cancer samples and no cancer in 79% of the control samples.

    While presenting the research at the 2019 NCRI Conference, Daniyah Alfattani, a doctoral student who was part of the research team, said, “The results of our study showed that breast cancer does induce autoantibodies against panels of specific tumor-associated antigens. We were able to detect cancer with reasonable accuracy by identifying these autoantibodies in the blood.”

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    Alfattani says more work needs to be done on the test, but the results of the pilot study were very encouraging.

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    “We need to develop and further validate this test. However, these results are encouraging and indicate that it’s possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer. Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease.”

    She also said that using a blood test to detect breast cancer early can be an easier and more cost-effective alternative to other methods of detecting breast cancer, such as mammography.

    This groundbreaking research can lead to an improvement in patients’ chances of overcoming breast cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death among Filipino women, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

    The Philippines has the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia. Click here to learn more and how to perform a breast self-exam.

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