Blood Test May Predict Recurrence
Very honestly, I am unsure why this study from ASCO has not had more press, and I am equally unsure of how much we really want to know about this. The facts are that a group from the UK has identified a blood test that may predict recurrence of breast cancer after adjuvant therapy. The usual caveat applies: this is a single study, so more work will need to be done to see if the findings hold up in other studies.
There is also the elephant in the room: the dismal fact that, at least so far, there has not been a survival advantage found by earlier discovery of recurrence This always seems completely counter-intuitive, but it is the reality. If a bone met, for example, is found in June because of testing motivated by rising blood markers, the woman will not live longer than if the met were found the following November due to pain. The general reason is that cancer cells will respond equally well to treatment begun later, and the time "advantage" is quickly equalized. I suppose that the trend towards targeted therapies may make some difference in this, but we don't yet know if that is true.
Here is the start and then a link to this report from Medscape:
Blood Test Predicts Breast Cancer Relapse
Janis C. Kelly
CHICAGO — Relapse after the treatment of primary breast cancer can be reliably predicted well in advance of clinical
indications with a circulating free DNA (cfDNA) test, according to a new study.
Results were presented here at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology®.
Tumor-specific mutations were present 6 months after primary treatment in 4 of 5 patients who relapsed after surgery,
but in 0 of the 26 patients who did not relapse. The relapses occurred at a median of 8.1 months after surgery.
During a Highlights of the Day session, Michael Gant, MD, from Medical University of Vienna in Austria, described the
study as "pivotal".
"If I had to choose only 1 abstract, I would choose this one," said Dr. Gant, who was not involved in the study.
"We have shown that tracking tumor-specific mutations in plasma can predict early relapse following the treatment of
primary breast cancer," said study lead author Nicholas C. Turner, MD, academic consultant medical oncologist at the
Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.