New test could detect breast cancer signs in just three hours

Posted on 10 June 2014
Molecular biologist Galit Yahalom at EventusDx.

Molecular biologist Galit Yahalom at EventusDx.

A blood test that can detect early signs of breast cancer within three hours is to be launched in Britain next year. It is hoped the test will offer an alternative to X-ray mammograms, which can give false positive or negative readings.

The test, which is approved by the European Union, could also save women from painful needle biopsies.

It comes after a series of high-profile cases in which women with terminal breast cancer were wrongly given the all-clear. One, a 46-year-old mother of five, died last month after her doctor misdiagnosed her cancer as tennis elbow.

Dr Galit Yahalom, an Israeli scientist who helped develop the technology, said: “In three hours a woman could know if she is positive for cancer or not. The tumour might be very small at this stage but it will give her options she might not have if it was detected later.”

The test has been welcomed by British scientists as current screening methods miss up to half of early breast cancers.

Blood tests have been used for markers that might indicate the presence of breast cancer but this is the first to detect cancer itself.

Professor Kefah Mokbel, a breast cancer specialist at St George’s Hospital, south London, said: “It would be particularly useful for those with a family history of the disease and for younger women, as mammograms do not pick up cancers as well in this group due to their denser breasts.”

However he said more work needed to be done as the test, while highly accurate at identifying cancer, can give false positive readings in some women.

The new test analyses the immune system. Raised immune responses indicate the body is fighting of a “foreign assault” which could be a cancer.

The Israeli, American based company, Eventus Diagnostics, which has developed the test, plans to negotiate to make it available on the NHS. A private test costs £200.

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