Researchers are developing a blood test that could help detect breast cancer 5 years before any symptoms become apparent. This method would also be less uncomfortable and more cost effective than traditional mammograms.
That said, most types of breast cancer are very treatable, and survival rates are high for those whose cancer doctors detect early and treat immediately.
However, breast cancer does not always produce obvious symptoms at an early stage, which can lead to late detection and affect the effectiveness of treatment.
Recently, researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom hypothesized that a blood test that screens for the presence of certain antibodies could help detect breast cancer early and easily.
They explain that when cancer is present, it produces antigens. These are substances that induce an immune response. The immune system then tries to counteract these substances by releasing autoantibodies.
So, the team started developing a blood test that would be able to detect those autoantibodies in the blood and indicate whether or not breast cancer is present.
They first developed panels of tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) specific to breast cancer. This allowed them to screen for the presence of autoantigens in blood that are associated with a response to breast cancer-specific TAAs.