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New Blood Test Improves Detection of Recurrent Breast Cancer

New Blood Test Improves Detection of Recurrent Breast Cancer

Women with a history of breast cancer have a one in five chance that the cancer will recur within 10 years of treatment. With that in mind, researchers have developed a blood test that can detect cancer recurrence sooner and with more sensitivity than previous blood tests. The data was presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Diego.

Dr. Daniel Raftery, professor of analytical and physical chemistry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and colleagues from Purdue University and Matrix-Bio, Inc., studied metabolites found in the blood of breast cancer survivors. While there has been suspicion that some of the studied metabolites could be involved in cancer in cancer, these metabolites had not previously been considered as potential biomarkers for recurrent cancer.

Using mass spectrometers, Raftery et al. were able to detect the presence of the metabolites in the blood samples. The researchers identified 9 metabolites that signaled breast cancer recurrence.

“Our markers detect twice as many recurrences as the CA marker does at the same specificity,” Raftery explained at the conference. “They also detect cancer recurrence earlier, about 11-12 months sooner than existing tests. They accomplish this with blood samples, rather than biopsies, with less discomfort to patients.”

One of the best known tests used to detect biomarkers, the CA 27.29, often misses cases of recurrence or detects the recurrence late, when symptoms have already surfaced. Raftery noted the new group of metabolites can be used in conjunction with the CA 27.29 to get the most accurate results possible for patients.

“We take both of those results together and roll them into the profile so that the score we generate is a combination of the CA value and our nine metabolites,” Raftery explained. “If the score indicates that the cancer probably has returned, the patient would then likely undergo imaging tests to locate the tumor.”

Raftery is hopeful that the new blood test will be available later this year.


ACS. New more-sensitive blood test catches recurring breast cancer a year earlier. Press release. March 28, 2012.

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