News / Health

Blood Test May Predict Outcome in Early Breast Cancer

Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
x
Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
Jessica Berman
Researchers have discovered that a simple blood test could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for early-stage breast cancer -- and a better prognosis for patients' survival.

The test looks for the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of women at early-stage breast cancer, before the disease has metastasized -- or spread to other parts of the body.

According to a study published June 6 in The Lancet Oncology, researchers examined survival rates and disease progression in 302 women who, already diagnosed with breast cancer, showed no obvious signs that the cancer had spread beyond the breasts or adjacent lymph nodes.

Findings of the study indicate that risk of recurrence and death was much greater in patients with higher concentrations of CTCs.

"The old idea that we can look at the primary tumor and the lymph nodes and figure out which patients are going to [have their cancer] recur is probably outmoded," says Dr. Anthony Lucci, a surgical oncologist at the University of Texas who led the study.

According to Lucci and his colleagues, nearly one-quarter of the patients had at least one tumor cell circulating in their blood. During the five-year study, ten percent of those patients died and 15 percent relapsed. But among patients whose blood contained no CTCs, just 3 percent died and only 2 percent relapsed.

All 302 women received the blood test before their primary breast tumors were surgically removed, but in some cases, says Lucci, the surgery wasn't enough.

Further studies, he says, are needed to identifiy breast cancer patients who would benefit most from the CTC test, and to determine which treatments would be most effective.

"We need to test a variety of therapies to see which ones are best at getting rid of these cells," he says. "I don't think we yet know whether standard chemotherapy regimens remove these cells in the majority of patients."

The study builds on Lucci's previous work looking for circulating tumor cells in the blood of women with later-stage, metastatic breast cancer.

While Lucci says he does not yet use the CTC blood test in his practice, he believes the test will eventually help early-stage breast cancer patients avoid painful lymph-node removal by providing improved diagnosis and treatment information.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs