Blood test detects breast cancer
Researcher Kurt Baeten, working at the University of Hasselt, has made a breakthrough with a simple blood test in the detection of breast cancer among younger women. This has made him an instant hero among many female fans. The blood test can be applied with more success than a mammogram among young females. The breast tissue of women younger than fifty appears less transparent on an X-Ray, making it more difficult to detect a tumour or swelling than among older women with greyer tissue. Says Baeten: “A quarter of all incidences of breast cancer occurs among younger women. This large group is left out when it comes to thorough detection, as a mammogram cannot provide conclusive evidence. About 20% of women in the age group 40 to 50 spontaneously approach their gynaecologist for an examination. Compared to a scan, which is only 67% secure, our blood test is 91% sure.” The test examines eight substances in the blood, which are the so-called metabolites such as sugars, fats and amino acids. In the case of breast cancer, certain concentrations of these substances are extremely high or low. Baeten measures the differences. “Honestly, my mailbox has exploded during the past few days. But I have to disappoint many women as the test is not yet available on the market. First we have to await the results of an additional test. But we are aiming for early 2012, when the test will be distributed among Belgian and Dutch doctors.” The test also facilitates the detection of smaller tumours requiring less invasive treatment. The cost pertaining to the test is obviously considerably higher as it involves an entire logistical chain and expensive laboratory equipment. But, as Baeten explains the price can be justified if one considers the advantages of the test, as patients are assured of a far more precise test result without being exposed to radiation.