Blood Test Predicts Breast Cancer Survival

Breast cancer researchers Sara Sukumar, Ph.D., and Mary Jo Fackler, Ph.D., developed a blood test that identifies breast cancers at greatest risk of recurrence. The test, called cMethDNA, finds cancer DNA in the blood and a chemical alteration to the DNA, known as hypermethylation, that promotes unchecked cancer cell growth and predicts an aggressive cancer. The test was studied in women with advanced breast cancer, and patients who had higher levels of hypermethylated DNA had shorter periods of progression-free survival. Additional research, led by Antonio Wolff, M.D., will explore the test as a way to predict, early on, if a cancer is responding to therapy. “There’s a great need in cancer patients to be able to quickly and easily assess if a particular treatment is working to be to able switch to another if it’s not, and avoid potential side effects and cost,” says Kala Visvanathan, M.B.B.S., M.H.S., a co-author on the study.