Conventional mammogram screenings have been credited with saving millions of lives the world over, though are by their very nature fundamentally flawed. Though highly accurate in detecting breast cancer tumors, a mammogram is unable to predict the onset of breast cancer and can therefore only deliver a positive result when the cancerous tumors have reached a specific size.
However, new research suggests that a simple blood test has the potential to revolutionize breast cancer screening by not only providing a more accurate indication of the presence of cancer, but potentially preempting the onset of the disease by up to five years. If breast cancer could indeed be accurately predicted as long as five years before setting in, early treatment could lead to millions of breast cancer cases being prevented entirely and incalculable lives saved on a worldwide basis.
Breast cancer accounts for over 25% of all female cancers and remains the second most common cancer in the world, claiming thousands of lives in the Unites States alone every year. Mammogram tests have been relied upon as the primary detection method for suspected cancerous tumors over recent years, which are often followed by unpleasant biopsies in order for cancer cells to be identified where present. Unfortunately, where cancer is detected it may have already progressed to a stage where treatment is made more difficult, having not been detected before the forming of the tumors.
With the new blood test however, a breakthrough ‘liquid biopsy’ technique could be used to carefully analyze a blood sample from the patient to not only detect signs of cancer, but identify those who may be at the greatest risk of developing the disease further down the line. According to the team working on the new blood test, the potentially revolutionary screen process is not only more accurate the mammogram testing, but could offer patients and practitioners alike a five-year head-start prior to breast cancer setting in.
Further testing and research will be required before widespread application can be considered however, the researchers reported.