A New Non-Invasive Test to Detect Breast Cancer Early
A new blood test that detects breast cancer has been discovered by researchers. The non-invasive method will be able to identify breast cancer five years before any clinical signs of the disease appear. During the test, auto-antibodies for the tumor antigens will predict breast cancer presence. Researchers have confirmed that this blood screening method will be ready for clinical use in four to five years’ time.
Early detection of breast cancer can help both patients and doctors prevent its progression. The invention of this advanced screening method adds to the many efforts by researchers to find better ways of fighting the disease, such as the breast cancer vaccine.
All body cells, including cancer cells, produce antigens. When these antigens are exposed to other cells within the body, they cause the immune system to generate auto-antibodies. Tumor-associated antigens indicate that cancer is present. In the same way, when an antigen’s auto-antibody appears, it means that a tumor is present.
During the study:
- Researchers built blood panels against the type of blood to be screened. They used a protein microarray for the antibodies linked to tumor-associated antigens in breast cancer tumors. Forty antibodies were tested, with 27 of them not related to breast cancer. Each blood panel was targeted to a subset of antibodies.
- The blood samples were from both patients diagnosed with breast cancer and volunteers without the disease. It was observed that breast cancer could induce auto-antibodies on particular tumor-associated antigens. Cancer could be accurately be detected by identifying the autoantibodies in a patient’s blood.
Although the outcomes of this research are promising, more research is needed to validate this test. Once this is done, early detection of breast cancer will be a cost-effective process that will benefit all patients, especially those in middle and low-income countries. These results have also sparked the interest of researchers to come up with similar methods of early detection in other cancers like lung cancer.