Blood vial with blood sample on test form (Shutterstock/Shawn Hempel)
A blood test that may be able to detect breast cancer up to five years before symptoms develop could be available by 2025 if development is fully funded, UK researchers said.
Doctors at the Centre of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer at the University of Nottingham compared blood samples from 90 patients being treated for breast cancer with the same number from a control group without the disease to measure the body’s immune response to substances produced by tumor cells. They’re now testing samples from 800 patients for nine markers and they expect the accuracy of the test to improve.
“A blood test for early breast cancer detection would be cost effective, which would be of particular value in low and middle income countries,” Daniyah Alfattani, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham said in a statement. “It would also be an easier screening method to implement compared to current methods, such as mammography.”
About 2.1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, according to the World Health Organization. It killed an estimated 627,000 women last year, accounting for 15 percent of all cancer deaths among women.
“We need to develop and further validate this test,” Alfattani said. “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.”
The research was presented at the U.K. National Cancer Research Institute cancer conference in Glasgow.