Last August a study was published online sharing the news that a blood test may be able to predict breast cancer recurrence eight months earlier than conventional methods. The study was conducted in 55 women with breast cancer. Of the 19% who had ctDNA, or circulating tumor DNA, in their blood samples, 89% relapsed. These findings welcome an exciting discovery that suggests a noninvasive blood test may one day be able to identify candidates at a high risk of breast cancer recurrence.
When researching further, scientists found that 96% of the test breast cancer patients who had no ctDNA didn’t relapse. However, the chemical wasn’t able to predict relapse everywhere, such as in the brain. It also hasn’t been proven to be equally effective for patients with low-risk tumors, as all of the women in this study were at a high risk and had received neoadjuvant therapy before their breast cancer surgery.
While the ctDNA is a good indication of whether a woman will experience relapse, it remains to be seen whether or not this early prediction will improve survival rates. Even so, this is an exciting discovery in science and it opens doors that might even offer a chance of a cure. While not ready for clinical use yet, it has laid the groundwork for possible future clinical trials and serial blood testing to learn which patients are likely to relapse.