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Blood test for tumor genes shows promise in predicting course of breast cancer treatment

Breast cancer remains a leading cause of suffering and death in the world. While treatment is often successful, some women experience relapse of the cancer after initial success while some breast cancer cases fail to respond to treatment. Scientists have now presented promising results of a blood test that looks for breast cancer cells that have escaped into the blood to see if they carry mutations (meaning genetic changes) that may predict how the cancer will repsond to treatment. This test focuses on a well known cancer gene called p53.

In this initial evaluation, the blood test was able to pick out those women whose cancers were less likely to respond to treatment and whose disease could be expected to return. The p53 gene also seemed capable of providing information on whether the cancer had spread. This test still needs to be evaluated further. If these initial promising findings are confirmed, the blood test may offer a new way to attack breast cancer and give more customized treatment to affected women.

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