A SIMPLE blood test can detect the return of breast cancer up two years earlier than existing scans, a study found.
Researchers took samples from 49 patients every six months for up to four years after surgery and chemotherapy.
Alamy Researchers used a simple blood test to look for tumour DNA in breast cancer patients
The blood test detected 89 per cent of all relapses, on average 8.9 months quicker than scans such as mammograms.
Detecting tumours early increases the chances of successful treatment and survival.
Boffins from the University of Leicester and Imperial College London used the Signatera test to look for tumour DNA.
Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, and 11,500 die from it.
Overall survival rates have improved but up to one in three will relapse within five years.
Prof Jacqui Shaw, from the University of Leicester, said: “Currently, there are no sensitive and specific clinical tests available to follow breast cancer patients after their primary treatment.
“The results of this exciting study show that it is possible to monitor patients with a simple blood-based test.
“This may provide a critical window of opportunity for earlier treatment than by other current tests.”
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Prof Charles Coombes, from Imperial College London, said: “Standard technologies for the detection of cancer recurrence have always been imprecise.”
The study included a cross section of breast cancer subtypes, including HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive, and triple-negative.
The findings are published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
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