SABCS: Foundation's blood test predicts early relapses in triple-negative breast cancer

A study of Foundation Medicine’s FoundationOne liquid biopsy test found it was able to predict the risk that a person’s breast cancer would return after being treated for early-stage triple-negative disease.

By screening patients for small pieces of tainted DNA released by tumors into the bloodstream, the test found that the presence of this biomarker was associated with eventual recurrence and 4.1 times higher risk of death.

“If you are a woman with triple-negative breast cancer, after surgery you are in a constant ‘watch and wait’ scenario, in fear of the cancer coming back,” said the study’s first author, Milan Radovich, an associate professor of surgery and medical and molecular genetics at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine. 

“We know that a significant proportion of these women will have disease relapse after surgery,” Radovich said in a statement. “[circulating tumor DNA] is a powerful tool to be able to predict recurrence and could help us identify the best ways to manage care for women diagnosed with this disease.” 

The ongoing study, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, enrolled 196 women and sequenced circulating tumor DNA in 142 patients using the FoundationOne Liquid Test. Mutated ctDNA was detected in 90 patients, with TP53 being the most commonly mutated gene, followed by others associated with breast cancer. 

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After about a year and a half of follow-up, the detection of ctDNA was found to be significantly linked to faster relapses, with patients going a median of 32.5 months before showing signs the cancer had returned. 

“For patients who have triple-negative breast cancer with residual disease, the risk of recurrence is exceptionally high,” said senior author Bryan Schneider, a professor of medicine and medical and molecular genetics at IU. “Novel therapies and technologies are critical, including those that can potentially predict the risk of relapse.” 

At the same time, the authors said that the outcomes of patients who did not have ctDNA in their bloodstream could be used as a sign for clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of other post-surgery and chemotherapy treatments. They expect a clinical trial to launch next year to further study ctDNA’s potential in assigning therapies to high-risk patients.