Detecting Breast Cancer Recurrence Earlier

Breast cancer recurrence detected a year earlier with new blood test

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A woman who has had breast cancer lives with the fear of its return. Detecting a recurrence can be tricky, involving imaging studies and biopsies. A new blood test appears to simplify and speed the process.

An extremely sensitive blood test can pick up on changes in a woman's body and detect a recurrence of breast cancer a year earlier than existing blood tests. 

"Ask your oncologist about blood tests to check for recurrence."

Breast cancer recurrence can be spotted by detecting certain biomarkers, which indicate the presence of disease. The most commonly used test looks for the biomarker called CA 27.29.

A research team at Purdue University and Matrix-Bio, Inc., led by Daniel Raftery, Ph.D. sought to develop a more revealing test than the CA 27.29.

Raftery says this test often fails to detect recurrence and detects it late after other symptoms such as breathing difficulty and bone pain appear.

Investigators analyzed hundreds of molecules known as metabolites in the blood of 78 individuals who had been successfully treated for breast cancer. Metabolites are the biological by-products of cellular activity, and some are known to be related to diseases. 

“We have identified a group of nine biomarkers that signal recurrence of breast cancer," Raftery said.

“Our markers detect twice as many recurrences as the CA marker does at the same specificity. They also detect cancer recurrence earlier, about 11-12 months sooner than existing tests,” said Raftery, who adds this test could save lives.

Many of the biomarkers identified are known to be associated with cancer. However, it was not known that this particular group could detect breast cancer recurrence, according to Raftery, who is the founder of Matrix-Bio, Inc. 

The new test would use these biomarkers along with the results from CA 27.29.

“We take both of those results together and roll them into the profile so that the score we generate is a combination of the CA value and our nine metabolites,” Raftery said.

The test may be available later in the year, after another clinical test is concluded. 

Previous studies on this have been published in the November 10, 2010 issue of Cancer Research.

The latest findings were presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Funding for this research came from the National Institutes of Health, Purdue University and Matrix-Bio, Inc.

Raferty holds an equity stake and is an executive with Matrix-Bio, Inc.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 28, 2012
Last Updated:
March 29, 2012