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Blood Tests For Breast Cancer

What Do The Results Of Hormone Testing Mean

HealthWatch: Blood Test Could Help Detect Breast Cancer

Breast cancer patients who test positive for both estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors usually have a better-than-average prognosis for survival and a complete recovery than those who have no receptors present. Also, the more receptors and the more intense their reaction, the better they respond to hormone therapy. Patients with one type of receptor but not the other may still reap benefits from this form of treatment, but likely not to the same degree. As mentioned earlier, if the cancer is both ER- and PR-negative, it probably wont respond to hormone therapy. Typical response rates to hormone therapy are as follows:

  • ER and PR positive: 75-80%
  • ER positive and PR negative: 40-50%
  • ER negative and PR positive: 25-30%
  • ER negative and PR negative: 10% or less

Complete Blood Count Test

A complete blood count test measures the number of blood cells circulating in the bloodstream. Specifically, this cancer blood test measures a blood sample for the level of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body white blood cells, which fight infection and platelets, which help with blood clotting. The test also measures hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen, and hematocrit, the ratio of red blood cells to plasma.

A CBC may be used to detect a variety of conditions, including leukemia, anemia and infection. Also, because some cancer treatments may temporarily lower blood counts, oncologists often use CBC tests throughout treatment to closely monitor a patients blood counts.

Blood Testing For Her2/neu

Sometimes, especially when there is not enough tumor tissue available to perform the test, a blood sample is drawn from the patients arm to collect similar data. This blood test is called a serum HER2/neu test, and it can be used as part of the initial workup upon cancer diagnosis or to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. If initially the level of serum HER2/neu is elevated to more than 15ng/mL and then it falls, the treatment is likely working. However, if the serum level remains elevated, this indicates the treatment is not working. If the serum level declines but then, upon later testing, is elevated once again, this is a sign that the cancer could be recurring.

When all three of the tests come back negative for receptors for hormones and negative for HER2, triple negative breast cancer may be the diagnosis.

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I Have A Strong Family History Of Breast Cancer Shouldnt I Be Screened For Ca 15

CA 15-3 is not recommended as a screening tool. It is not specific or sensitive enough to detect early breast cancer. Elevations in CA 15-3 may be due to other causes, and a normal value does not ensure that you do not have cancer. As a rule, it should only be used after breast cancer has been diagnosed.

Can A Tumor Marker Be Used To Screen For Cancer

20 x Breast Cancer CA15

Ideally, markers could be used as a screening test for the general public. The goal of a screening test is to find cancer early, when it is the most treatable and before it has had a chance to grow and spread. So far, the only tumor marker to gain some approval as a screening tool is the Prostate Specific Antigen for prostate cancer, though this has concerns as well.

The main worry with tumor markers is that they are not specific enough they have too many false-positives. This means that the level is high when cancer is not present. This leads to costly tests that are not needed and causes the patient to be worried. The other concern is that the marker level is not high in early enough stages of the cancer, so the cancer cannot be found any earlier than when symptoms start to appear. Keep in mind that some substances used as tumor markers are normally made in the body, and a normal level is not always zero.

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Will Breast Cancer Show Up In A Blood Test

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According to the CDC, breast cancer is among the most common forms of cancer for adult women. Naturally, early detection should be a priority, especially for those with risk factors, such as a family history of the disease.

Since breast cancer is usually asymptomatic in its early stages, routine breast cancer screening is important. If you are an adult woman, you may have wondered: will breast cancer show up in a blood test? Though some blood tests can detect tumor biomarkers in people with cancer, there is no standardized blood test for breast cancer yet.

Continue reading to learn about the blood tests that can be used as preliminary breast cancer screenings and how this cancer is normally diagnosed. Click here to book an appointment for blood work such as a CBC test.

How Do You Know If Your Breast Cancer Has Spread

While ultrasound, mammography, and biopsies allow doctors to monitor breast cancer, checking if it has spread to other tissues can be done by detecting tumor markers via blood tests. These breast cancer tumor markers are CEA, CA 27.29, and CA 15.3 and are often screened throughout treatment.

Other lab tests ordered for possible localized spread include a bone scan, chest x-ray, CT scan, and sentinel node biopsy. Metastatic cells can spread to the lymph nodes, bones, lungs, and even the brain.

Read Also: New Treatment For Triple-negative Breast Cancer

Calcium Level In The Blood Test

Depending on your situation, your doctor might check the levels of calcium in your blood.

Damaged areas of bone can release calcium into your bloodstream. This can happen if you have breast cancer that has spread to the bones. You can have treatment to lower the levels of calcium.

How Accurate Are Breast Screenings

Possible blood test to detect breast cancer

Although breast cancer diagnostic screenings can have pitfalls in some instances, they are accurate more than 80% of the time. In fact, research suggests that mammography and ultrasonography have enough sensitivity and specificity to calculate your risk for breast cancer. However, breast cancer can only be detected via a series of lab tests.

Nonetheless, each diagnostic procedure does not guarantee 100% accuracy on its own. Thus, your doctor will require multiple testing, not just mammography. Doing so strengthens accurate detection, which in turn, leads to proper and precise treatment.

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Mammaprint + Blueprintvs Oncotype Dx

In most cases, gene expression tests are used for early-stage cancers. The type of test a doctor recommends depends on each patient’s specific situation.

  • With some breast cancers, hormone receptor proteins are present these are proteins that can stimulate cancer growth. The care team will test cancer cells from a biopsy for estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors . If testing indicates the presence of one or both of these receptors, the cancer is considered hormone receptor-positive. This information is useful in pinpointing a course of treatment. Hormone receptor-positive tumors may benefit from the use of hormone therapy drugs that block estrogen receptors. However, this treatment isnt useful in treating cancers that are hormone receptor-negative .
  • HER2 testing is also an important part of determining treatment options. HER2-positive tumors may respond to cancer drugs that target HER2, a protein on the outside of breast cells that causes them to metastasize faster. HER2-negative cancers dont produce much of the protein HER2. Tumors that are hormone receptor-negative as well as HER2-negative are categorized as triple-negative breast cancer. These cancers are faster-growing than other types of breast cancer. HER2-negative and triple-negative cancers usually dont respond to drugs targeting HER2.

Both the patient’s hormone receptor status and the results of HER2 testing help determine which type of gene expression test is recommended.

The Future Of Breast Cancer Blood Tests

Blood tests that use information from circulating tumor DNA to test for multiple cancers at the same time before symptoms become apparent are called multi-cancer early detection blood testsand theyre in development now. Which means that they are not FDA-approved, their use is not widespread, and they are not yet embraced by mainstream health providers.

Currently in clinical trials, MCED tests are designed to test for cancers like pancreatic cancer that, unlike breast cancer with mammograms, dont have a standard screening test. The idea behind them is that cancers caught at an earlier stage may be more easily treated. But experts warn that they could also lead to false negatives, false positives, and overdiagnoses.

The company GRAIL has introduced an MCED blood test called Galleri that GRAIL claims can be used to detect signals that may indicate 50 different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer.

But experts caution is the claim is misleading. It doesnt detect 50 cancers, clarifies Dr. Blayney. It detects abnormalities that could lead to cancer at some point in the future. And whether thats three days or 40 years, its hard to know.

Breast Cancer Stat: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information About Breast Cancer.

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes.

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Can I Have Cancer If My Blood Tests Are Mostly Normal

I have had pelvic/lower abdominal pain for about 8 months now. It is a continuous pain, some occasional blood in my stools. My Dad had Colon cancer at aged 50 and died at 56. My sister has polyps removed reguarly. I am 49 and had an early menopause. My blood tests are normal except for a high mean heamoglobin count? I had a sigmoid flex but it was clear. I have no idea what it could be but am worried it is an undetected cancer? Anyone have any thoughts on this? My GP does not seem concerned.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know

20 x Breast Cancer CA15

Laboratories may use different methods to test for CA 15-3, so results can vary from lab to lab. If you are having a series of CA 15-3 tests done, it is advised that you have the tests done by the same method, typically by the same laboratory, so that the results can be compared and interpreted correctly. You may wish to discuss this issue with your healthcare practitioner.

Levels of CA 15-3 are not usually measured immediately after breast cancer treatment begins. There have been instances of transient increases and decreases in CA 15-3 that do not correlate with the persons progress. Usually, the healthcare practitioner will wait a few weeks after starting treatment to begin monitoring CA 15-3 levels.

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What Are Tumor Markers

Tumor markers are substances in the body that are produced in much higher quantities when cancer or certain benign conditions are present. The substances may be found in the blood, urine, stool or tumor tissue. Most of these substances are proteins, but sometimes gene expression patterns and DNA changes are used as tumor markers, as well.

Because an elevated tumor marker doesnt necessarily indicate cancer, tumor markers cannot be used alone to diagnose cancer. Generally, tumor marker measurements are used in combination with other tests, such as biopsies.

Tumor marker tests used to diagnose cancer include:

Biology Meets Machine Learning

The test works using a type of DNA released by tumor cells. This sheds into the blood, where it is known as cell-free DNA . It can be challenging to identify tumor-specific cfDNA, however, because many other cells also release DNA into the blood.

This test detects DNA that is specifically from cancer cells using changes to the DNA namely, the addition of a chemical called a methyl group, which is associated with tumor growth.

After isolating cfDNA from the blood sample and sequencing it to find the methylated parts, healthcare professionals can feed the results into a computer that can recognize DNA from cancer and noncancer cells.

The computer can then predict whether or not a person has cancer, and even what type it might be.

  • Can Cancer Be Detected by a Blood Test? Center
  • If your physician suspects cancer during physical examination or while taking a medical history, they might order certain cancer blood tests to guide the diagnosis. These blood tests are called tumor markers. Tumor markers could be specifically raised in certain cancers, and may give some idea about the origin of cancer and whether it is responding to the treatment protocol. These tests, however, are neither specific for certain cancers nor highly sensitive.

    Other blood tests could be ordered. While these may not detect cancer or benign tumors, they can give a general idea about the functioning of the organ and indicate whether it has been affected by cancer.

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    What Do The Results Mean

    If you are being treated for ovarian cancer, you may be tested several times throughout your treatment. If testing shows your CA-125 levels have gone down, it usually means the cancer is responding to treatment. If your levels go up or stay the same, it may mean the cancer is not responding to treatment.

    If you have finished your treatment for ovarian cancer, high CA-125 levels may mean your cancer has come back.

    If you are not being treated for ovarian cancer and your results show high CA-125 levels, it can be a sign of cancer. But it may also be a sign of a noncancerous condition, such as:

    • Endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus also grows outside the uterus. It can be very painful. It may also make it harder to get pregnant.
    • Menstruation, at certain times during your cycle

    If you are not being treated for ovarian cancer, and your results show high CA-125 levels, your health care provider will probably order more tests to help make a diagnosis. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about your results.

    If your health care provider thinks you may have ovarian cancer, he or she may refer you to a gynecologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive system.

    Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer

    New blood test could help breast cancer patients

    Difficulty with urination frequency, weak stream, trouble getting started, etc. is usually the first sign of prostate cancer. But these and other early symptoms of prostatic cancer can also come from benign prostate conditions, so diagnostic testing is important, including PSA tests and digital rectal exam.

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    What To Expect During A Tumor Marker Test

    Blood will be drawn from a vein in your arm. The entire process only takes a few minutes. Heres what you can expect:

  • The person doing the blood draw will sanitize the area where the needle will be placed.
  • A rubber band will be tied around your upper arm and youll be asked to make a fist. This helps to make the veins in your arm stick out, making it easier for the needle to be inserted.
  • A needle will be inserted into a vein in your arm. This will be attached to a test tube that will collect the blood sample.
  • Once the blood sample has been collected, the needle will be withdrawn from the vein.
  • A small amount of bleeding can happen when the needle is removed. Youll be asked to use a piece of gauze to apply pressure to the area.
  • A bandage will then be placed over the gauze. Plan to leave the bandage on for a few hours.
  • Diagnostic Performance Of Tacts According To Breast Cancer Stage

    Relative to the value of 90.2% achieved using the TACT assay on our test set, the sensitivity values of other conventional assays were comparable or much lower, at 89%, 7%, and 5%, respectively . To gain the detailed clinical relevance of subtypes and stages in breast cancer, we analyzed the sensitivity of TACTs in each breast cancer subtype. The sensitivity values of the TACT assay by breast cancer subtype were 86%, 100%, 100%, and 83% for luminal A, luminal B, HER-2, and triple-negative breast cancer, respectively, and the sensitivity of the assay for these subtypes corresponded to that of the mammogram . Moreover, compared with the sensitivity values of conventional assays for the blood markers CEA and CA 15-3 , this showed that the sensitivity of the TACT assay was remarkably high . By cancer stage, the sensitivity values of the TACT assay were 87%, 91%, 100%, and 83% for patients with stage I , stage II, stage III, and stage IV breast cancer, respectively . Thus, the assay appears capable of detecting early-stage breast cancer.

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    Developing A Blood Test

    Researchers believe their findings could eventually be used to make a simple blood test for the early detection of breast cancer in high risk women.

    By collecting the blood of the patient every half year more often is also possible a baseline of the patient is created, thus the patient is their own control, Dr. Mesker explained when asked how this type of blood test might work.

    Small changes in the proteins can be accurately detected. Based on these findings, the doctor/patient can decide to monitor more frequently clinical decision-making, e.g. or surgery of the tumor. A simple blood test can be more frequently applied, is more convenient, has low costs, and no risk of complications. Dr. Mesker

    When asked when a blood test like this might be available to the public, Dr. Mesker said their hope is to have it available in several years.

    We currently are measuring the patients in the total TESTBREAST study. There are almost 70 patients who developed breast cancer over the last years, and of which we have longitudinal samples available. These will be analyzed for the set of six proteins and a set of additional high-potential markers and evaluated, she said.

    When data are confirmed, the test can be used for patient analysis as an add-on next to mammography and/or MRI, Dr. Mesker continued.

    Next to this, we will evaluate the test in women with other genetic carriers, and women with high risk, also . Furthermore, we have a large database available of women with


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