Blood test could diagnose breast cancer

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Women could one day be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer through a simple blood test, researchers have said.

A recent study aims to see if blood samples taken from women undergoing breast screening could be compared with the blood of sufferers to identify similar abnormalities.

It is also suggested the blood test could improve treatment by detecting whether patients are likely to relapse and what drugs their particular type of tumour will respond to.

Professor Charles Coombes, co-investigator and Cancer Research UK's breast cancer expert from Imperial College, said: "When a woman has breast cancer we can tell by the DNA in her blood.

"But what we're trying to find out in our study is how early the signs of breast cancer show up in a blood test. So by looking at blood samples of women who have breast cancer diagnosed through screening we can see if the cancer is already showing in their blood."

Researchers said the procedure could be more accurate than mammograms in testing for the early signs of breast cancer. Blood tests also have the potential to detect other cancers.

Coombes said: "Our research team is only looking at breast cancer, but there are a number of other projects that are looking at using a blood test to detect other cancers such as bowel and lung."

The study, which will begin this month, has been funded by Cancer Research UK, the University of Leicester and Imperial College London.

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