A study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology shared that a simple blood test may help save the lives of patients suffering from breast cancer.
The blood test can help doctors diagnose if a patient with early breast cancer is likely to succumb to the disease, or to relapse after treatment. Researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas shared that tumor cells in a blood sample taken at the early stages of breast cancer may accurately predict a patient’s chances for survival.
The researchers said: “The presence of one or more circulating tumor cells (CTCs, in the blood) predicted early recurrence and decreased overall survival.”
The study analyzed data from tests conducted on 302 patients who received treatment at the cancer center between February 2005 and December 2010. The study participants suffered from early stage breast cancer, a phase of the disease where the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, and had not received chemotherapy.
The analysis indicated that a quarter of the group had CTCs, and of those who had CTCs, one in seven relapsed after treatment, while one in ten died during the test period. On the other hand, those who did not have CTCs had a 3 percent relapse rate and a 2 percent death rate.
A press release that accompanied the study reads: “For patients with a higher concentration of CTCs, the correlation with survival and progression rates was even more dramatic, with 31 percent of these patients dying or relapsing.”