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A Blood Test That Could Help Target Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer patients who are diagnosed later or whose cancer has recurred can have trouble due to the limited treatment options available for them. Most of them will not survive for more than five years.

A few breast cancer with genetic defects or specific mutations can be targeted using new drugs being tested in ongoing clinical trials. Some defects are rare and require novel methods to single out patients who can benefit the most from the latest treatments.

To identify defects in patients with breast cancer, physicians often use tumor samples in biopsies that take longer to analyze and are also painful procedures. This process can be invasive and relatively slow. Furthermore, the defects are likely to change when cancer progresses or even after treatment. In advanced forms of cancer, it may not be possible to take the biopsies since the cancer has already spread further from its original site.

A blood test has been discovered, which can help identify the rare mutations in advanced breast cancer. This good news can help doctors to administer effective treatments to patients.

In a clinical trial;

  • Researchers managed to detect DNA mutations in tumors that had already been shed into the patients’ bloodstream.
  • They found weaknesses in breast cancer DNA. If these weaknesses are targeted with drugs, patients will receive treatment quicker. The blood test is the best way of guiding treatment for patients with advanced forms of breast cancer.
  • The study was looking at whether the blood test was able to detect the three targetable gene defects in breast cancer known as ESRI, HER2, and AKT1.
  • The findings confirmed accurate responses in 95% of the cases. This shows that the blood test could identify rare breast cancer subtypes with utmost accuracy.

Doctors can now use the blood test in place of liquid biopsies. It can also help to detect signs of treatment resistance and monitor how cancer responds to treatment. Larger clinical trials are underway to help assess new targeted drugs for rare forms of breast cancers with particular gene defects.

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