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Cancer blog: Just A Blood Test To Detect Breast Cancer Return

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Nov 11, 2005

Just A Blood Test To Detect Breast Cancer Return

Just A Blood Test To Detect Breast Cancer Return
Image courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis
A new blood test to detect early recurrence of breast cancer is there in the horizon thank to researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This test would be very sensitive and specific for breast cancer recurrence and uses mammaglobin, a protein secreted by breast tumor cells. Mammaglobin can readily be detected in the blood serum of patients with metastatic breast cancer using an inexpensive, reliable clinical test.

A test for mammaglobin holds significant promise for catching metastatic tumors early," says study co-author Timothy P. Fleming, Ph.D., research associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine and a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center. "Compared to the few other known biomarkers linked to breast cancer, mammaglobin is the best. The protein is found in breast tissue and is secreted by most breast tumors."

In this study, which is published in Clinical Cancer Research, 56 women without breast cancer and 26 women with metastatic breast cancer were tested using mammaglobin detection. The women without breast cancer were found to have a steady, low level of mammaglobin in their blood. In contrast, the women with metastatic breast cancer had on average much higher readings of mammaglobin than the baseline level, providing the potential to distinguish cancer-free patients from those with recurrent breast tumors.

In addition, about 80 percent of all breast cancers examined, regardless of the type of tumor or stage of development, tested strongly for mammaglobin while normal breast tissue had significantly less mammaglobin. Prostate, colon, lung and ovarian cancer tissues did not test positive for mammaglobin.

Mammaglobin levels in blood serum can be readily obtained with a test called ELISA, an inexpensive clinical test often used to measure protein levels in fluids. The test detected even very low concentrations of mammaglobin in blood serum and maintained accuracy over a 1,000-fold increase of mammaglobin concentration.

"When we studied it further, we saw that the gene is predominantly active only in breast tissues and realized it would be an important marker for breast oncology research" says study co-author Watson, associate professor of pathology and immunology and director of the Multiplexed Gene Analysis Core and Tissue Procurement Core at Siteman.

Janet      Return to Cancer Blog Main

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Cancer blog: I manage the cancer blog with lots of help and support form other bloggers. Through this cancer blog my friends and I try to bring stories of hope for patients with cancer. The cancer blog often republishes important blog posts from other cancer related blogs at If you are searching for a blog that covers wide variety of cancer topics, this may be the one for you.

Breast cancer blog: Breast cancer blog is run by Emily and other bloggers and they bring you the latest stories, news and events that are related to breast cancer. Increasing awareness about breast cancer among women and in the general population is the main goal of this breast cancer blog.

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We do not know the exact cause of many cancers. Many cancers like leukemia have no apparent cause. Some other types of cancers like lung cancers have identifiable causes like smoking in most cases. Lung cancer can occur in those who have never smoked in their life. It is hard to know in these cases what is causing that patients lung cancer. Factors that increase the risk of development of cancer is known as risk factors for cancer. These risk factors may be modifiable like smoking where a person can exert control or un-modifiable factors like age and gender. Smoking can cause cancers of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, kidneys and several other organs.

Cancer blog: Just A Blood Test To Detect Breast Cancer Return

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