Buddy Check 7: Researchers identify markers to detect breast cancer early through a simple blood test

Buddy Check 7
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - For those who have a suspicion that they have breast cancer, the only way to know for sure is through an invasive surgical biopsy. However, new research is finding ways to turn a diagnostic surgery into a simple blood test.

Researchers like Dr. Srinivas Sathipati with Marshfield Clinic Research Institute say this surgical method, taking a needle guided by x-ray into a suspect tumor is not necessary in many cases.

“The goal of our study is (to) develop a minimally invasive diagnostic test to identify early breast cancers,” he said.

There are molecules in the body called microRNA. They are one of the many pieces our bodies use to create cells from DNA. What microRNA do is control how much or how little certain genes are expressed. So, if someone has cancer tumors, microRNA were likely damaged and were not able to keep those genes from becoming cancerous cells.

“These microRNAs tell us who has cancer and who doesn’t, with more than 95% accuracy.”

Out of roughly 2,500 different types of microRNA in the body, Dr. Sathipati and his team identified 13 microRNA that indicate that someone has breast cancer.

We are hoping that in the near future, we can detect early breast tumors before any woman has the symptoms of the disease in advance, just by normal blood test,” he said.

That would not only reduce the cost of diagnosis and save patients from having to have surgery just to confirm they have cancer, but also increase survival rates. They found that they could detect cancerous cells as much as a year before patients have symptoms. As NewsChannel 7 has reiterated throughout our Buddy Check coverage: early detection can save lives.

“If the researcher developed minimally or non-invasive methods for the diagnosis, it would be a breakthrough in cancer diagnosis.”

These same methods are being used to begin detecting other types of cancers and create therapies too. There is no diagnostic blood test available currently, but researchers are continuing to work to develop an accurate test. Marshfield Clinic Research Institute is currently recruiting participants for that research. They are looking for women who have been recently diagnosed with breast or any other type of cancer. Contact the institute here.