In a new study, researchers found that a new type of blood test for breast cancer could help avoid thousands of unnecessary surgeries.
The new test could also help precisely monitor disease progression.
The research was led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Mayo Clinic and other institutes.
In the study, the team found the blood test called TARDIS—TARgeted DIgital Sequencing—is as much as 100 times more sensitive than other blood-based cancer monitoring tests.
The TARDIS is a “liquid biopsy” that specifically identifies and quantifies small fragments of cancer DNA circulating in the patient’s bloodstream, known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).
According to the study, TARDIS detected ctDNA in as low as 2 parts per 100,000 in the patient blood.
The team suggests by precisely measuring ctDNA, this test can detect the presence of residual cancer, and inform doctors if cancer has been successfully eradicated by treatment.
For example, this blood test is precise enough to tell if early-stage breast cancer patients have responded well to pre-operative drug therapy.
It is more sensitive than the current method of determining response to drug therapy using imaging.
The new finding has enormous implications for women with breast cancer.
It could help plan the timing and extent of surgical resection and radiation therapy after patients have received pre-operative therapy.
The test depends on liquid biopsies, which use a simple blood draw. It could safely be performed repeatedly, as often as needed, to detect a patient’s disease status.
This is unlike traditional biopsies, which only produce results from one place at one time.
Following more clinical testing and studies, the new test could someday be routinely used for monitoring patients during cancer treatment, and discovering when patients are essentially cured and cancer-free.
The lead author of the study is Muhammed Murtaza, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor.
The study is published in the premier journal Science Translational Medicine.
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