A blood test that detects when the most common form of breast cancer has become resistant to treatment could double the average time it takes for the disease to progress, from around two and a half to around six months, a new study part-funded by Breast Cancer Now shows.
Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust showed a ‘liquid biopsy’ test, which detects low levels of cancer DNA in the blood, can spot women who will respond poorly to current hormonal treatments and who are more likely to benefit from newer drugs.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Liquid biopsies are beginning to show real promise. This exciting study shows that they could be used to ensure women with secondary breast cancer get the drugs most likely to control their disease for longer, further personalising their treatment.
“Previous studies have shown that by testing for certain mutations in the DNA found in a patient’s blood, it is possible to monitor whether they are becoming resistant to treatment at a much earlier stage. But crucially we’ve now identified that testing for ESR1 mutation in particular could help clinicians accurately predict the best course of treatment for certain patients.
“Whilst there’s more work to do to bring this technology into widespread use, this encouraging finding takes us a step closer.”