What is the blood test for breast cancer?

The Heidelberg researchers have developed a blood test to help in the early detection of breast cancer, and the first Details on the method in the case of a women’s doctors presented to Congress. For the procedure only a few milliliters of blood are required, the University hospital of Heidelberg and the company Heiscreen. The Test is still to come this year on the market.

The investigation detects so-called biomarkers, of a cancer disease. According to a communication from the Test common diagnostic procedures such as mammography, ultrasound or MRI can expand. First, the “image”newspaper reported on the process and celebrated it as a “world sensation”.

“Non-invasive, and fast”

The blood test was “a new, revolutionary way to detect cancer in the breast non-invasively and quickly, using biomarkers in the blood,” says Christof Sohn, Medical Director of the Heidelberg University women’s hospital and one of the developers of the procedure.

The Test is a so-called Liquid Biopsy (liquid biopsy). This substances in body fluids such as blood, urine, or saliva, to messengers, or tumor cells sought to discover a cancer disease or to characterize in more detail.

In one study, the Team of the doctors son has in the past twelve months, more than 900 women – 500 of them with breast cancer were examined. The accuracy of the new blood test was the breast cancer patients, according to the message at 75 percent. In the case of the 50-Year-olds, the rate was 86 per cent higher among the over-50-Year-old, she spent 60 percent lower. In the further course of the study, the use of the test in other cancer types such as ovarian cancer should be explored.

Interesting approach, but many questions unanswered

Klaus Pantel from the Hamburg UKE is regarded as one of the pioneers of the liquid biopsy. What he thinks of the presented Test?

“This is certainly an exciting approach,” says Pantel. But he is cautious, because the Heidelberg colleagues have presented their work so far, only a Congress and no scientifically published study. According to son, the Heidelberg have published so far, due to patent reasons, no Work, this is you want to do it quickly.

Pantel asks, for example, how secure is the Test for breast cancer to detect at an early stage. “Because we want to find the cancer, Yes, especially then.” Also was unclear whether all the sub-groups of breast would be detected cancer equally well.

According to his statement, an investigation is not enough, with less than a thousand women, in order to clarify all the important questions. “Other groups develop similar Tests that check this, usually with the help of several Thousand volunteers.”

Also, the average accuracy of the Tests by 75 percent, according to Pantel optimally. Because it means: one out of four women with breast cancer, the Test does not Alarm.

The Heidelberg researchers say that especially women could benefit from under the age of 50 with a familial increased risk of breast cancer from the Test. Because in this age a mammogram because of dense breast tissue glands often have no clear knowledge.

The son himself says clearly: “We do not see ourselves as competitive to mammography but as a complement.” Moreover, they would have already been made in various studies, the blood test for a total of about 2000 women in the sample.

How often the Test produces a false Alarm?

Important is also the question of how often the Test provides a so-called false-positive result: the number of times he wakes so in women who have no breast cancer, suspected cancer. This indicator of a test need to know the Doctors, because such suspected diagnoses further investigations and can trigger the Affected person substantial emotional Stress. To clarify is how to proceed when the Test delivers a positive result, a mammogram showed no Tumor, says Klaus Pantel.

“False-positive results for each Test”, Christof’s son. Thus, physicians must be able to handle. If in fact the blood test was positive, and the imaging will show no Tumor, be repeat both Tests a year and a half later.

It is, therefore, premature at this stage to speculate whether the statutory health insurance companies cover the cost of the Test and who would have a claim on it. Only other issues need to be clarified.

Currently, women in Germany have 30 years will be entitled each year to a tactile examination of the breast for early detection of cancer. Women aged 50 to 69 years are invited every two years for mammography Screening. In Germany, about 70,000 women annually receive a breast cancer diagnosis. A good 70 percent of those Affected are older than 54 years.