Breast Cancer Awareness Month may have just ended, but this month researchers presented a new blood test that may help with early detection of the cancer, which is the most common among women globally.
This year alone, an estimated 269,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, according to the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society.
While breast cancer is widespread, it also has high survival rates, but early detection is key, experts say.
However, symptoms don’t always present themselves early in breast cancer cases, which is why researchers at the University of Nottingham set out to develop a blood test to help.
According to Medical News Today, the team first developed a panel of tumor-associated antigens linked to breast cancer so they could then screen for the presence of autoantigens in the blood.
Researchers say the blood tests could result in detection up to five years before tradition clinical signs would appear.
“These results are encouraging and indicate that it's possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer,” researcher Daniyah Alfattani said in a release. “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."
According to WebMD, the researchers saw greater success with the test in panels that contained more TAAs.
Researchers said they are encouraged by the progress, but noted a lot of work remains before they could get to a point of using blood tests in place of mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
"It will be great if someday we are able to diagnose breast cancer by a simple test," Dr. Lauren Cassell, told WebMD. "This does not appear to achieve the level of accuracy we would like to achieve or which we do reach with our current mammogram and sonogram in terms of detection.”
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