How can a simple blood test can predict if the breast cancer will return?

blood test

According to the Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Einstein Center of Cancer in New York, this experiment will be an “early warning sign” that the cancer is returning and maybe help to diagnose faster.

Sparano says that if the blood test tests negative for breast cancer is around 98% chance that the cancer will not come back in the next 2 years.

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How this test works?

This test looks in the blood for stray cancer cells. It is called CellSearch and was sell by Menarini-Silicon Biosystems.

Dr. Sparano did the study, analyzed it and gave it to at Sao Francisco Breast Cancer Symposium.

This study can help the doctors to diagnose the cancer faster but until now, is too soon to consider this test to everyone who had breast cancer. The cost to do it is from USS 600 to USS 900 and the insurances do not cover this test just to predict the risk to have cancer again.  So the doctors are, using this procedure, for more than one decade, only to monitor treatments in advanced stage.

According to the breast cancer specialist Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, who works at Northwestern University in Chicago, this study it is a call for more studies in this field. He says that it is time to improve this experiment and use it to predict the recurrence risk of cancer.

The experiment involved 547 woman, who already were in cancer drug study. According to this experiment, two-thirds of them had cancer fueled by estrogen, and usually the cancer just spread to the lymph nodes, no in other organs.

Guidelines recommend that a woman should keep the blocking-hormones for up to 10 years after the treatment. But this procedure has side effects and after 5 years the benefits are very small. So this new blood test (CellSearch) would be great to give blocking-hormones just to the woman who tested positive for stray cancer cells.

Considering the woman who had the cancer fueled by estrogen, 5 % had tested positive to cancer cell and had 22 times more chance to have cancer again in two years, comparing to woman that the test was negative.

Around 65% of woman who tested positive, did not have cancer in the next two years, but according to Dr. Sparano, this is does not mean that the test was incorrect, but more likely that they did not monitor those patients  long enough.

This experiment it is a good way to avoid woman, who tested negative, to continue the blocking-hormones therapy longer than 5 years. This study could not predict the cancer who the tumors were not fueled by estrogen, but usually the risk is really lower to return after five years.