A new early warning for breast cancer survivors 9



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To cancer survivors, the possibility of relapse casts a long shadow over hopes and plans for the future. But, bit by bit, more ways are surfacing to address this fear.

A new test by the Institute of Cancer Research in London gives hope that potential relapses can be detected and treated far earlier.

According to the BBC, this newly-developed blood test can be taken after surgery or chemotherapy treatment to deliver an early warning that the disease has returned.

The small study successfully identified relapse signs in 12 out of 15 women – months before any other visible signs.

This is the first study showing that blood tests can be used to predict relapse. It is hoped that this earlier detection can lead to earlier chemotherapy, and ultimately better chances of success.

Unfortunately, it could be some time before the test could be available in hospitals – though the researchers hope to speed up this process with a larger trial next year.

Dr Nick Peel from Cancer Research UK, said this could be an important step toward finding cheaper, less invasive ways to detect cancer risks. Unfortunately, it could be some time before it can practically help us.

“There is some way to go before this could be developed into a test that doctors could use routinely, and doing so is never simple”.

Not all experts are hopeful. Harvard researchers Tilak Sundaresan and Daniel Haber said it was unclear whether early signs of a relapse would offer a realistic chance of a cure; this would be a matter for further studies.

However, Paul Workman, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said this will have additional benefits to broader cancer research.

“Studies like this also give us a better understanding of how cancer changes to evade treatments – knowledge we can use when we are designing the new cancer drugs of the future”.


Have you (or somebody you know) been affected by breast cancer? Does this make you hopeful for future detection?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. l would be pleased to see this in Australia l had it come back three times.

  2. It’s always in the back of your mind !

    1 REPLY
    • Yes, and health practitioners are not sure how to treat me after so long, wait for symptoms (what are they?), or do I push for scans; yearly, two yearly or maybe never. It wasn’t an oncologist that found my secondary but a persistent GP.

  3. it shows that great work is being carried out in this area, that is why continued donations can contribute even further, good news!

  4. I just wish we weren’t so crazy about having so many chemicals put into the ground that we grow our food in,then spray all our food with. Don’t forget how many chemicals in the home, cleaning agents. Our whole being is CHEMICALS where does it end. .CANCER that’s where

  5. A secondary cancer is always at the back of one’s mind after a cancer survival…….I’ve lost numerous friends with a secondary cancer elsewhere in their body…….so much research & funding over sooooo many years……we should have a cure by now with so many brilliant scientists working towards a cure

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