Using an innovative technique, researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School have identified specific serum protein profiles that may enhance the detection of breast cancer. In early testing, the biomarker profiles have shown a specificity and sensitivity that approaches that of mammography.

The technique used, called protein chip mass spectrometry, searches for multiple proteins that are differentially expressed in blood to create a unique profile. Samples were collected from 139 women, including both breast cancer patients and healthy women. The age range of participants was 21 to 91. Patients were classified as either normal/benign or cancer.

Results of the screening identified 80% of the breast cancer patients as ductal carcinoma in situ or stages I or II. Only 13% were stage III and 7% were stage IV. These results need to be validated in larger samples and by outside institutions. However, these findings are encouraging for the future of finding a blood test for the detection of breast cancer.

Reference: Are we closing in on a blood test for breast cancer? Protein chip mass spectrometry shows promise. Oncology News International. 2003; 12/3: 18-19.

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