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Will Breast Cancer Show Up In Blood Work

What Cancer Screenings Are Available And What Should I Consider If I Have Risk Factors

Simple blood test could be used to detect breast cancer

Routine screening is linked to a decrease in deaths from cervical, breast, colon and skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 90 percent of colon cancer patients survive five or more years, or can be cured, when colon cancer is caught early through screenings. It is recommended that adults 50 and older get a colonoscopy or other test, especially if there is a family history of colon cancer, polyps or other bowel diseases. Check with your healthcare provider on test types and timing.

Other recommended screenings:

  • Prostate – with blood testing for elevated PSA
  • Ovarian cancer there is limited screening capability for this type of cancer but a CA-125 blood test can help indicate whether there is cancer present as part of a diagnostic workup.
  • Cervix and uterine have an annual Pap test
  • Breast cancer the American Cancer Society recommends an annual mammogram for women beginning at age 40. An MRI may be recommended if there is a strong family history of breast cancer.
  • Lung cancer an annual X-ray is suggested, especially if you are a smoker.
  • Skin cancer pay close attention to changes on your skin and contact your health provider if you see: moles that grow or change in appearance, spots that bleed, peel or itch and ulcers or sores that wont heal.

Tumor Marker Tests: Mixed Results

Technically, tumor markers are chemicals produced by cancerous cells that end up floating around in a patients blood. Some tumor markers are also made by healthy cells in the presence of cancers. That sounds like a clear sign of malignancy, but its not. Lots of people without cancer have elevated levels of tumor markers and the use of these tests in cancer diagnosis is still controversial.

Doctors usually look for proteins that accompany cancer, but recently, physicians have also started analyzing abnormalities in DNA and gene expression as tumor markers, too, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Theres no tumor marker that all cancers produce as a rule, at least not one thats been identified yet. But researchers have found proteins that specific types of tumor seem to produce:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein, a blood protein produced by amniotic fluid during normal fetal development, may be elevated in the presence of liver cancer and germ cell tumors like ovarian cancer and testicular cancer.
  • CA 19-9 is an antigen, a protein that may be manufactured by cancer cells and causes an immune system response. CA 19-9 levels are usually studied to manage pancreatic cancer, but a patients levels may also be elevated because of colorectal or esophageal cancer.

Finding cancer markers in blood work isnt enough to diagnose cancer, or screen patients for developing malignancies.

Liquid Biopsies Have The Potential To Save Lives

If these liquid biopsies work like theyre designed to, doctors will find more cancers and find them earlier. Ofman says this could reduce the cancer-related five-year mortality rate by 15% to 24%. Given that an estimated 600,000 Americans will die of cancer this year, if Ofman is right, this technology could save 144,000 lives per year in the United States alone.

Furthermore, treating cancer early is about half the cost of treating it in the late stages, Ofman says. Since Americans are projected to spend $158 to $207 billion this year on cancer care, the savings could be significant.

Srivastava says liquid biopsies could also save Americans billions of dollars in unnecessary diagnostic work-ups. So youll reduce the cost of treating cancer dramatically, and then, given all the false positives that are generated by single-cancer screening tests, youll reduce it even more.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, dont forget to .

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Colon Cancer And White Blood Cell Count

White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and are easily detectable in blood tests. A specific type of white blood cell called the neutrophil is responsible for warding off infections and destroying harmful cells.

The normal neutrophil count is 1,000/1 microliter. A deficiency in neutrophils is called neutropenia. This is caused by severe infections that are too invasive.

On the other hand, neutrophil production can also be stalled by the presence of cancer. Cancer treatments can also affect neutrophil count due to radiation exposure. Keeping track of your neutrophil count can help you understand how your body works.

Red Blood Cell Count And Bleeding Polyps

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Blood tests look at hemoglobin levels in red blood cells. This protein is responsible for bringing fresh oxygen into the blood and transporting it throughout the body. A dysfunction in red blood cells is called anemia.

Anemic people have symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations

Anemia is caused by multiple abnormalities, including cancer itself. Bleeding polyps can worsen over time. When this happens, the survival rate of patients with cancer is threatened. Anemia deprives the body of fresh oxygen, which in turn affects the bodys capability to cope with cancer treatments.

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What Do The Results Of Hormone Testing Mean

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

Mammaprint + Blueprint Test

The Mammaprint® 70-Gene Breast Cancer Recurrence Assay may be used to determine the risk that a patients cancer will return. A high-risk score means the cancer has a three-in-10 chance of returning. A low-risk result puts the chances at one in 10. Neither result is a guarantee that the malignancy will or will not come back, but the assessment may be used to guide treatment decisions.

The Blueprint® 80-Gene Molecular Subtyping Assay examines which of the tumors mutations are dictating the cancers behavior. When used with the Mammaprint assay, Blueprint may narrowly define each tumor into a subtype classification, which also may help guide treatment decisions.

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Eight Cancers Could Be Diagnosed With A Single Blood Test

For many cancers, diagnosis is a long and challenging process. A new blood test, however, could offer a much-needed simpler and more effective diagnostic technique. Called CancerSEEK, it has the potential to identify eight cancer types from one blood sample.

In the new study, researchers reveal how the blood test demonstrated high sensitivity and specificity for cancer detection in more than 1,000 people with the disease.

The team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD recently published their results in the journal Science.

Worldwide, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of cancer deaths will have risen from 8 million to 13 million.

Early diagnosis is key to reducing cancer-related deaths the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the higher the chances of treatment success. But sadly, many cancers are not caught until the later stages, and this is largely due to a lack of fast and effective diagnostic tools.

However, the Johns Hopkins researchers believe that CancerSEEK could bring us closer to a quick, simple way to detect cancer in its early stages.

What Are The Different Types Of Breast Cancer And Its Different Stages

New blood test may reveal breast cancer risk

In breast cancer, knowing where the tumor is located, its size, type and stage, are extremely important in understanding treatment and outcome. Types of breast cancer are categorized depending upon how they look under the microscope. Some may also be combinations of different types. For details visit the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society.

As a general guideline, breast cancer is categorized as:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ refers to abnormal cells found that havent invaded surrounding tissue.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ abnormal cells contained within a lobule of the breast but havent invaded surrounding tissue.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma also known as infiltrating and capable of traveling to other parts of the body. About 70 percent of invasive breast cancers are this type.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma less common than IDC starts in milk-producing lobule and invades surrounding tissue.

Like many cancers, breast cancer is divided into stages:

  • Stage O localized hasnt yet spread.
  • Stage I – an early stage of invasive breast cancer has not spread beyond the breast.
  • Stage II tumor can vary in size and has spread to the lymph nodes but is still contained within a certain region.
  • Stage III a locally advanced cancer tumor may be large.
  • Stage IV metastatic cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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Test Produced High Sensitivity And Specificity

When cancerous tumors form, they release small fragments of mutated DNA and proteins into the bloodstream, and these can act as markers for cancer.

The new blood test works by identifying the markers for 16 gene mutations and eight proteins that are associated with eight different cancer types. These include breast, lung, and colorectal cancer, as well as five cancers ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, and esophageal for which there are currently no routine screening tests for people at average risk.

A novelty of our classification method is that it combines the probability of observing various DNA mutations together with the levels of several proteins in order to make the final call, explains study co-author Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., an associate professor of oncology and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.

For their study, the researchers tested CancerSEEK on 1,005 individuals who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic forms of one of the eight cancers.

They found that the test was able to identify 70 percent of the cancers, with sensitivity ranging from 33 percent for breast cancer to 98 percent for ovarian cancer. Sensitivity ranged from 69 percent to 98 percent for the five cancers that currently have no routine screening tests, the researchers report.

In terms of specificity, the test yielded an overall result of more than 99 percent. On testing CancerSEEK on 812 healthy adults, it only produced seven false-positive results.

What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancers are malignant tumors that arise from the uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast. They occur primarily in the ducts that transport milk to the nipple during breast feeding and secondarily in the lobules, the glands that produce milk.

Each breast cancer will have its own characteristics. Some are slow-growing others can be aggressive. Some are sensitive to the hormones estrogen and progesterone, while

Breast cancers are malignant tumors that arise from the uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast. They occur primarily in the ducts that transport milk to the nipple during breast feeding and secondarily in the lobules, the glands that produce milk.

Each breast cancer will have its own characteristics. Some are slow-growing others can be aggressive. Some are sensitive to the hormones estrogen and progesterone, while others produce very high levels of certain proteins that make them grow. The cancers characteristics can affect treatment choices and the potential for the cancer to recur.

The rest of this article will focus on breast cancer in women. It is recommended that men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer speak to their healthcare provider for information specific to them and see the ACSs web site about Breast Cancer in Men.

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Does Cancer Show Up In Routine Blood Work

When you visit a doctor, say for weakness and fatigue or for some other common complaint like headache, body ache or nausea and vomiting, the first thing your doctor might advise is a routine blood work up.

Although a routine blood workup may sound like a very basic investigation, it speaks loads about the general health status of a person. Several blood parameters of a routine blood workup have some important significance and this is the reason why it is given so much importance primarily.

Once the routine blood workup shows some striking abnormality, only then further blood investigations will be advised to detect and diagnose cancerous and non-cancerous conditions.

Also, since a routine blood test is the first thing to be advised by your doctor, certain parameters can even strengthen the suspicion of cancer at an early stage. This in return increases the chances of survival and also increases the array of treatment methods.

Tests To Determine Specific Types Of Treatment

New blood test could spot breast cancer five years before ...

You’ll also need tests that show whether the cancer will respond to specific types of treatment.

The results of these tests can give your doctors a more complete picture of the type of cancer you have and how to treat it.

In some cases, breast cancer cells can be stimulated to grow by hormones that occur naturally in your body, such as oestrogen and progesterone.

If this is the case, the cancer may be treated by stopping the effects of the hormones or by lowering the level of these hormones in your body. This is known as hormone therapy.

During a hormone receptor test, a sample of cancer cells will be taken from your breast and tested to see if they respond to either oestrogen or progesterone.

If the hormone is able to attach to the cancer cells using a hormone receptor, they’re known as hormone-receptor positive.

While hormones can encourage the growth of some types of breast cancer, other types are stimulated by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 .

These types of cancers can be diagnosed using a HER2 test and are treated with medicine that blocks the effects of HER2. This is known as targeted therapy.

Want to know more?

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Blood Tests Dont Actually Look For Cancer

For many pets with cancer, a routine blood test comes back normal. Why is this?

Quite simply, the test isnt looking for cancer. It measures how well the organs function, electrolyte levels, and the size and number of red and white cells.

OK, there are blood cancers such as leukemia or some lymphomas that shift the white cell count, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

Think of it like a car mechanic diagnosing why a vehicle drives rough:

  • If he just looked at the engine and found no problem, it doesnt mean the vehicle is fine.
  • Thats because the mechanic didnt spot that one of the tires was flat.

In just the same way, cancers often have a local effect that doesnt show up in general blood tests.

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Who Needs Hormone Receptor Testing

Hormone receptor testing is generally recommended for all breast cancers, including DCIS. If your doctor orders this test, you may be asked to discontinue taking any prescribed hormones for a period of time before the breast tissue sample is obtained. Usually, the sample comes from a biopsy, but the test may also be performed on tissue removed during a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It is standard of care however to obtain these types of pathology results on biopsy tissue.

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Polyps And Colon Cancer

An important part of diagnosing colon cancer revolves around the investigation of existing colon polyps in the digestive system. Colon polyps are cell clumps that can be found along the lining of the colon. While most polyps are benign, a small percentage of them are malignant, becoming cancerous over time. On their own, polyps generally do not cause any symptoms, and grow very slowly over time.

Survival Rates For Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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Inflammatory breast cancer is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time its found, and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. The outlook is generally not as good as it is for other types of breast cancer.

Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

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Imaging Tests Have Risks And Costs

The biggest risk is that imaging tests expose you to radiation. The effects of radiation add up over your lifetime and can increase your risk of cancer.

Imaging tests can also show a false positive. This means a test shows something unusual, but after more testing, is not a problem. False positives can lead to stress, more tests, and a delay in getting needed treatment.

Imaging tests can also add thousands of dollars to your treatment costs. Not all insurance companies pay for them for early-stage breast cancer.


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