A simple blood test that promises to be better at detecting breast cancer in its early stages than a mammogram has been hailed as a “game changer” for women’s health.
The Trucheck test, which highlights cancer cells circulating in the blood, correctly identifies 92 percent of breast cancers — about five percentage points higher than a mammogram.
But the scientists say the real breakthrough is its enhanced ability to detect early-stage breast cancers that are too small to pick up on scans, especially among younger women.
Professor Kifah Mokbel, a breast cancer surgeon who was involved in the research, predicted that the blood test would lead to a “paradigm shift” in breast cancer screening.
This test is likely to be a game changer. It can transform breast cancer screening.
A simple blood test that promises to be better at detecting early-stage breast cancer than a mammogram has been hailed as a ‘game-changer’ for women’s health
Medical oncologist, Dr Tim Croke, of the private London Clinic, who is providing it to patients, said the test could replace mammograms, adding: ‘We have a huge problem with late-diagnosis of cancer in this country, and it was hard to think. One of the ways to improve it.
In the test, a nurse draws 5 ml of blood, which is processed to determine the presence of “circulating tumor cells” (CTCs). These cells are almost always produced by carcinomas and are a very accurate sign of cancer.
In a case-controlled study involving blood samples from 9,632 healthy women and 548 other women with breast cancer, Trucheck was able to correctly detect the cancer as it was present 92 percent of the time.
The test detected very late-stage cancer — where tumors had spread outside the breast — by identifying 100 percent of samples from women with stage 3 or stage 4 disease.
They weren’t accurate in detecting early-stage cancers, which produce fewer cancer cells, but the results were still impressive — they identified 96 percent of women with stage II disease, where tumors are largely confined to the breast.
For stage 1, where the cancer is small and only in the breast, the accuracy was 89 percent. Even for ‘ductal carcinoma in situ’, also known as stage 0, where there are precancerous lesions that can progress to disease, it identified 70 percent of cases.
But scientists say the real breakthrough is its enhanced ability to detect early-stage breast cancers that are too small to pick up on scans, especially among younger women.
There were no false positives — the test indicated cancer but none were found — although another study found a handful.
By contrast, about one in ten positive mammograms is a false alarm, leading to unnecessary treatment. Dr. Crook said the blood test has other advantages over mammography, such as a lack of radiation, which increases cancer risks, and “the absence of the need for infrastructure” such as clinics.
Women in England are invited to have their first mammogram at age 50, then every three years until 71. Last year, only 62 per cent of eligible women had x-rays, in part due to the pandemic affecting services and attendance – meaning that While 1.2 million people had a mammogram, resulting in nearly 11,000 breast cancer diagnoses, 750,000 did not. Subsequent diagnosis leads to poor chances of survival.
Dr Kroc said that if more women were diagnosed when breast cancer was less advanced, it would dramatically improve overall outcomes.
Professor Kifah Mokbel predicted that the blood test would lead to a ‘paradigm shift’ in breast cancer screening
When monitored in stage I and II, cure rates exceed 90% “without high-tech treatment”.
The test could help women in their 40s, who are not usually offered an NHS mammogram because they are relatively poor at detecting tumors in the denser breast tissue found among younger women.
More than 10,000 women under the age of 50 – mostly in their 40s – are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year – a fifth of all cases. Often, their cancers are not detected until late in their spread.
Professor Mokbel, from the London Breast Institute at Princess Grace Hospital, said the blood test results, published in the journal Cancers, ‘represent a pivotal step towards expanding early detection of breast cancer beyond the current screening age and to women not participating in current screening. . software.
The test has European approval for use in women over the age of 40 but is still subject to validation studies in the United Kingdom and the United States. The same technology, developed by India’s Datar, has been validated to accurately detect glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
Dr Crook said the test could eventually be used to screen for several types of cancer from a single sample of blood, adding: “If you could do a blood test from a single tube that could reliably pick up all common solid tumors, that would be great. . Your GP can do this.
Simon Vincent, of Breast Cancer Now charity, said: “Early detection can stop people dying. This method can be particularly useful in diagnosing breast cancer where the limits of mammography detection are being pushed.”