Blood tests may show who is cured of breast cancer

from the Baltimore Sun by Meredith Cohn

Blood tests that can diagnose breast cancer are no longer a pie-in-the-sky idea.

Scientists say in coming years, these tests, so-called liquid biopsies, could reveal whose breast cancer has been cured and whose is likely to return. Eventually, the tests could change the way most cancer is diagnosed and treated.

The possibility emerged when an ultra-specific blood test was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year to detect gene mutations in people with the most common type of lung cancer, allowing those with the mutation to be treated with a life-sustaining drug.

“Application of this technology is so wonderful,” said Dr. Pasi Janne, a spokesman for the American Association for Cancer Research who has been researching such tests’ uses for lung cancer patients. “Simply being able to examine blood to see what’s happening and use that to guide therapy is great.”

Liquid biopsies look for specific gene mutations from molecules shed into blood. Ideally, results would come faster and more easily than those from traditional tissue biopsies, and they would direct treatments, show how therapies are working, identify cancer likely to recur and someday even find cancer during a routine physical.

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