« Bush mulls importing prescription drugs | Main | Leukaemia risk for kids living near petrol stops »

Researchers developing blood test to detect presence of breast cancer

Thursday, August 19, 2004 - Page A1

The notion that doctors may one day be able to detect cancer as they do cholesterol, in mere drops of blood, is no longer a pipe dream.

Researchers in Canada and the United States have developed separate techniques to pinpoint elusive tumour cells from a thimbleful of drawn blood, a feat that may help predict the severity of a patient's cancer without biopsy or bone scan.

Both projects found that the greater the number of tumour cells collected in a sample, the more dangerous the disease appeared to be. The results are expected to give doctors a relatively painless tool to help identify who needs aggressive treatment, who is not benefiting from it and who might be spared the toxicity of chemotherapy.