11 September 2020
The plasmaMATCH trial which investigates whether simple blood tests known as ‘liquid biopsies’ can benefit women with breast cancer by tracking their disease as it evolves and directing them to the most effective treatments. The latest study, published in The Lancet Oncology, analysed blood samples from more than 1,000 women with breast cancer that had recurred after treatment or spread to another part of the body.
Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden were able to reliably detect mutations found in tumour DNA that had been shed into the bloodstream of women with advanced breast cancer. They then went on to match patients to targeted treatments according to the specific mutations in the tumour DNA. They found that the blood test correctly identified the presence or absence of the mutations in over 93% of cases.
Dr Simon Vincent, Director of Research, Support and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, said:
This is a significant development in the field of liquid biopsies, with this blood test being shown to give some women with advanced breast cancer accurate and valuable genetic information about their disease while being less invasive than a standard biopsy.
For around 35,000 women in the UK living with the daily impacts and uncertainties of secondary breast cancer, this blood test together with further development of new targeted treatments could offer a personalised way to track breast cancer mutations and help match therapy options. With around 11,500 women dying every year from secondary breast cancer, we desperately need to find better ways to treat the disease.
We look forward to seeing results from larger clinical trials and further insight into how these liquid biopsies could be used on the NHS to help select the most suitable treatment for women with advanced breast cancer.
In the meantime, anyone living with secondary breast cancer can call our free Helpline on 0800 800 6000 for additional support or information – our nurses are just at the end of the phone.