A new blood test that is more accurate than mammogram can predict breast cancer five years before it develops.
Researchers in Denmark have devised a simple blood test that accurately predicts breast cancer, five years in advance. With an accuracy level of 80 percent, it is more accurate than currently conducted mammography tests. Commonly referred to, today’s mammogram tests are only 75 percent accurate and unfortunately, can be relied upon only after a person has already developed breast cancer.
In their endeavor to come up with a better option for breast cancer screening that was more accurate, the University of Copenhagen team managed to perfect the simple blood test. Additionally, they wanted to eradicate the problem of misdiagnosis and false positives that has been plaguing mammography for years.
About one in three women have a dense breast tissue making mammograms a tricky test to conduct and read authoritatively. Dense breast tissue not only significantly increase the risk of contracting breast cancer, but the mammograms can be thrown off track and eventually these tests might fail to pick-up on tell-tale lumps. For ages, researchers have urged that ultrasounds be used part of the breast screening process in conjunction with mammograms – particularly for more at-risk women – to achieve better accuracy.
However, thanks to the new blood test, it will soon become extremely easy. Laura Donnelly explained how the breakthrough technique works.
“The blood test works by measuring all of the compounds in the blood to build a ‘metabolic profile’ of an individual, in order to detect changes in the way chemicals are processed, during a pre-cancerous stage.”
Incidentally, the concept is the same one used by researchers from Harvard University in the U.S to predict a person’s likelihood of developing cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myelodysplastic syndrome in years to come, by looking for certain tell-tale mutations believed to originate in their blood stem cells.
To ensure their new breast cancer blood test was accurate and reliable, the Danish researchers observed 57,000 participants over 20 years, gathering blood samples along the way. Having logged the participants’ medical history, the researchers found they were able to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which patients would be affected by the disease, just by looking at the metabolic profiles they built from the participants’ blood samples.
This new technique is quite revolutionary primarily because early detection of breast cancer can mean assured recovery. Early detection is crucial for breast cancer – if you catch it up to stage 2, you have a 93 to 100 percent chance of surviving the diseases, which drops down to 72 percent at stage 3, and 22 percent at stage four.
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