Blood Test May Identify Breast Cancer Years Before Symptoms Appear, Pilot Study Suggests

Blood Test May Identify Breast Cancer Years Before Symptoms Appear, Pilot Study Suggests
A simple blood test – which measures antibodies against certain tumor proteins, or antigens — may identify breast cancer up to five years before clinical signs of cancer are evident, but more research is needed to improve the test's accuracy, a pilot study reports. Screening for a panel of nine tumor-associated antigens identified breast cancer in 39% of patients, while correctly identifying 79% of samples without breast cancer. The findings were recently presented at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference, held Nov. 3–5 in Glasgow, Scotland. Daniyah Alfattani with the University of Nottingham presented the results in the talk, “Clinical Utility of Autoantibodies in Early Detection of Breast Cancer.” Because cancer cells carry several mutations in their DNA, they normally produce proteins that are different from those of healthy cells, allowing the immune system to recognize them as foreign. Cancer proteins that are able to induce an immune response are called tumor-associated antigens. Antibodies targeting tumor-associated antigens are good indicators of the presence of cancer, and may be found in cancer patients up to five years before their diagnosis. This means that testing for these antibodies could help diagnose patients earlier, allowing them to be treated at a stage where the cancer is likely curable. Researchers investigated whether these antibodies could be measured in a blood sample to accurately detect breast cancer. They analyzed blood samples from 90 women at the time t
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