New biomarker for breast cancer opens door to early detection

As part of a larger investigation into women's health, investigators at the renowned Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle have found that an elevated level of a particular protein can serve as an effective biomarker for the detection of breast cancer, allowing testing for the disease at a far earlier point than standard diagnostics in use today.

The discovery emerged from the long-running Women's Health Initiative, which recruited 100,000 women to study the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Scientists from the Fred Hutch were able to analyze blood samples from women who went on to develop breast cancer, and found that their level of epidermal growth factor receptor was high 17 months before diagnosis. This kind of breast cancer biomarker offers the promise of being able to spot cancer at a very early stage, greatly improving a woman's chance of survival.

"No prior studies have validated a single breast cancer early detection biomarker to the degree that we have here," said Dr Christopher Li, who led the research.

"This work is still at an early stage, and it's not yet possible to tell if this research could be developed into an effective test," remarked Dr. Claire Knight, health information officer at Cancer Research UK. "However, biomarkers are an exciting area of research because they could flag the early stages of certain cancers, making diagnosis much quicker and easier in future."

- here's the article from the Daily Mail