A Blood Test to Monitor Cancer Treatment

Updated at: Jul 09, 2012
A Blood Test to Monitor Cancer Treatment

Progress of tumours to be spotted with a blood test.

Himanshu Sharma
LatestWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Jun 04, 2012

A Blood Test to Monitor Cancer TreatmentTracking the progress of cancer tumour will become very easy with the use of a sample of patient’s blood. Researchers at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute claim that faulty DNA that indicates advancement of cancer tumour has been identified.

It will be a low-cost blood test, which will track the advancement of tumour in ovarian cancer patients after its diagnosis and during the treatment course. Earlier, repetitive biopsies were carried out to know the progress of cancer tumour. The blood testing technique picks up fragments of mutated DNA that are leaked into the bloodstream when cancer cells die.

The research panel believes that medical technology have to be further tested before being used in cancer diagnosis and treatment around the globe. Understanding the behaviour of genetic faults in tumours will help blood sampling technique to be applied in other forms of the cancer.

Testing a patient's blood will provide the picture of how a tumour is responding to treatment. This will also help figure out if decrease in faulty DNA is stabilising the cancer’s progress and a rise will signify that the patient is relapsing.

Currently, tumour progress is monitored by the biopsy method. The technique is invasive, which raises the risk that the sample may generate misleading outcome of the genetic mutations in the tumour. Moreover, monitoring tumour advancement by biopsy becomes far more difficult after the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.

In the trails conducted, researchers identified genetic faults in tumour growth in 20 out of 38 tests on women with a particular subtype of ovarian cancer. The research looked at 20,000 possible mutations in DNA from a particular part of the genetic code ascribed as high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. Researchers also conducted trails on breast cancer patients for 16 months and observed that the test could accurately monitor tumour progression.

The detailed research report was published in Science Translational Medicine journal.




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