A new blood test, called a liquid biopsy, has been revealed as a breakthrough in preventing breast cancer recurrence.

Presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, the test can predict if breast cancer will return years before the disease shows up on scans because it searches for DNA fragments in the blood stream that could indicate that it is coming back a second time.

In a study of 78 patients, the test was found to be 100% accurate at predicting which women would be affected by secondary breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the UK and the biggest cause of death in women aged between 35 and 49. Every year in the UK, over 55,000 people are diagnosed, resulting in around 11,500 deaths, the majority of which are from secondary breast cancer.

Although survival rates have improved thanks to early detection and advancements in treatment, rates in women have increased by 24% in the past 30 years and are predicted to rise even further.

The implications of this breakthrough are significant. Professor Cliona Kirwan, Chair of the Prevent Breast Cancer Scientific Advisory Board commented:

“This study highlights the potential of a simple blood test to predict which patients are likely to have their breast cancer come back. These patients can then have additional treatments with the aim of reducing the chance of the cancer returning. This is a really important development for women who have undergone treatment for early breast cancer as it will potentially increase their chance of living a long, healthy life.”

For years, the medical community has sought ways to predict and prevent the recurrence of breast cancer, which often returns more aggressively and at a later stage. This new liquid biopsy test detected cancer an average of 15 months before symptoms appeared or the illness showed up on scans.

This early detection could lead to preventative therapy for those at high risk, with the aim of avoiding the cancer returning.

It is important to note that this research is still in its early stages. While the results are promising, more extensive trials are necessary to confirm the findings and then, if proved effective, determine the best ways to integrate this test into routine clinical practice.

The goal would be to make this test widely available to patients, which could revolutionise post-treatment monitoring and significantly improve survival rates. This test aims to detect recurrent breast cancer and cannot be used within the general population to detect early signs of breast cancer arising for the very first time.

This news follows other promising developments in cancer research, including advancements in saliva tests for prostate cancer and the introduction of personalised vaccines for cancer patients. Each of these innovations brings the medical community closer to more effective and personalised cancer care.
Early detection remains one of the most powerful tools in preventing breast cancer, and continuous research and innovation are key to improving outcomes and saving lives.

The liquid biopsy test represents a monumental step forward in detecting and preventing breast cancer returning, and its ability to predict recurrent breast cancer with high accuracy long before symptoms appear could transform how we approach cancer surveillance and treatment.

While more research is needed, the findings presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting offer hope for a future where cancer recurrence is caught early and treated more effectively.

Want to learn more about breast cancer prevention? Find out more about the work our researchers are doing to predict and prevent breast cancer.

Published On: June 7th, 2024 /

Share this page

About Prevent Breast Cancer

Prevent Breast Cancer is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer – we’re committed to freeing the world from the disease altogether. Unlike many cancer charities, we’re focused on preventing, rather than curing. Promoting early diagnosis, screening and lifestyle changes, we believe we can stop the problem before it starts. And being situated at the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK, we’re right at the front-line in the fight against the disease. Join us today and help us create a future free from breast cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, email us today.