New blood test could predict breast cancer relapse risk

Weeks or even months before there is evidence of a tumor in scans or biopsies, a simple blood test could detect the risk of relapse in survivors of early stage breast cancer.

The "liquid biopsy" developed at the Institute of Cancer Research in London is a kind of blood test that shows promise in detecting cancer DNA in the blood before the cells grow into tumors. The results of a prospective pilot study of the test were published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Using a technique called mutation tracking, researchers say the blood test identified the risk for relapse an average of 7.9 months before traditional biopsies or imaging scans would have shown tumors, referred to as clinical relapse.

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