Fresh hope for breast cancer

A blood test has been developed which may detect breast cancer long before tumours are large enough to be seen on an X-ray.

Researchers say the test is accurate in 90 per cent of cases. The technology could be widely available in ten years.

Announcing the breakthrough, Dr LoriWilson, of the JohnWayne Cancer Institute in California, said it could be used alongside routine mammograms.

If a mammogram produced an ambiguous finding, a blood test could be used to decide whether the woman needed a biopsy.

The test looks for cancerforming proteins in the blood. Dr Wilson said: 'We know that a normal cell has a unique, identifiable protein signature. As it changes to a cancer cell, that signature changes too.'

She said the main problem with the test was the high level of false positives, where it detects suspicious abnormalities which are not cancer.

The preliminary study involved 300 women, many with cancer. Further testing is planned on 1,000 women, who will be followed for seven to ten years to see if they develop the disease.

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