Game-changing blood test even better at detecting early breast cancer than mammography

A simple blood test that promises better early detection of breast cancer than a mammogram has been hailed as a “watershed” for women’s health.

The Truczek test, which isolates cancer cells circulating in the blood, correctly detects 92% of breast cancers, about five percentage points higher than mammography.

But scientists say the real breakthrough is its improved ability to detect early-stage breast cancer, which is so small it’s hard to detect on scans, especially in young women.

Breast cancer surgeon Professor Kefah Mokbel, who participated in the study, predicted that the blood test would lead to a “paradigm shift” in breast cancer screening.

“Perhaps this test will change the rules of the game. This could change breast cancer screening,” he said.

A simple blood test that promises better early detection of breast cancer than a mammogram has been hailed as a “watershed” for women’s health.

Medical oncologist Dr Tim Crook, of The London Clinic, a private hospital that offers it to patients, said the test could even replace mammograms, adding: “We have a huge problem with late cancer detection in this country and it was hard to think. or ways to improve it.”

During the test, a nurse draws 5 ml of blood, which is processed to detect the presence of “circulating tumor cells” (CTCs). These cells are almost always produced by cancerous tumors and are a sure sign of cancer.

In a case-control study that included blood samples from 9,632 healthy women and another 548 breast cancer patients, Truczek was able to correctly detect cancer where it existed 92 percent of the time.

The test accurately detected advanced cancers when tumors had spread beyond the breast, identifying 100% of samples from women with stage 3 or 4 disease.

It wasn’t as accurate at detecting cancers at earlier stages, which produce less CTCs, but the results were still impressive—identifying 96% of women with stage 2, when tumors are mostly confined to the breasts.

For stage 1, when the cancer is small and localized only in the breast, the accuracy was 89%. Even for “ductal carcinoma in situ”, also known as Stage 0, when there are precancerous lesions that can develop into the disease, 70% of cases are detected.

But scientists say the real breakthrough is its improved ability to detect early-stage breast cancer, which is so small it's hard to detect on scans, especially in younger women.

But scientists say the real breakthrough is its improved ability to detect early-stage breast cancer, which is so small it’s hard to detect on scans, especially in younger women.

There have been no false positives when the test shows that cancer exists but is not detected, although another study found a few.

In contrast, about one in ten positive mammograms is a false alarm leading to unnecessary treatment. Dr. Krook said the blood test has other advantages over mammograms, such as the absence of radiation, which increases the risk of cancer, and “no need for infrastructure” such as clinics.

Women in England are invited for their first mammogram at age 50 and then every three years until age 71. Last year, only 62 percent of mammogram-eligible women received x-rays, due in part to the pandemic affecting services and attendance, meaning that while 1.2 million had mammograms, resulting in nearly 11 000 have been diagnosed with breast cancer and 750,000 have not. Late diagnosis reduces the chances of survival.

Dr. Crook said that if more women were diagnosed when their breast cancer was less advanced, it would greatly improve overall outcomes.

Professor Kefah Mokbel predicted that the blood test would lead to a

Professor Kefah Mokbel predicted that the blood test would lead to a “paradigm shift” in breast cancer screening.

When detected in stages 1 and 2, cure rates exceed 90 percent “without high-tech treatment.”

The test may help women in their 40s who are usually not offered NHS mammograms because they are relatively poor at detecting tumors in the denser breast tissue found in younger women.

Every year in the UK, more than 10,000 women under 50 (most over 40) are diagnosed with breast cancer, accounting for a fifth of all cases. Often, their cancers are discovered only in the later stages, when they have already spread.

Prof Mokbel of the London Breast Institute at Princess Grace Hospital said the results of the blood test, published in The Ruckers, “represent a decisive step towards expanding early detection of breast cancer beyond the current screening age and for women not participating in current screening.” “. programs”.

The test has been approved in Europe for use in women over 40, but is still undergoing validation studies in the UK and the US. The same technology, developed by the Indian firm Datar, has been approved to accurately detect glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

Dr. Crook said the test could eventually be used to screen multiple cancers annually from a single blood sample, adding: “If you can do a one-tube blood test that can reliably detect all common solid tumors, that was would be fantastic.” . Your therapist can do this.

Simon Vincent of the charity Breast Cancer Now said: “Early detection can stop people from dying. This technique may be particularly useful for diagnosing breast cancer, where the limits of mammography detection are pushed back.”