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Liquid biopsies could revolutionise how cancer is detected

March 16th, 2016

Liquid biopsies could soon help cancer specialists identify breast cancer, and breast cancer recurrence, long before it becomes a lump or a mass on X-Ray.

A liquid biopsy refers to testing a sample of blood either for circulating tumour cells or for bits of the tumour gene code, which could have been released into the blood.

Jackie Coles, NBCF Acting CEO explains, “Early detection is crucial for saving lives and we are excited about the possibilities that routine liquid biopsies could bring. The non-invasive procedure could detect breast cancer and cancer recurrences earlier by picking up cancer in areas that tissue biopsies struggle to reach.”

The National Breast Cancer Foundation funds life-changing breast cancer research that contributes to a goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.

Professor Christobel Saunders is funded by NBCF and is focused on distinguishing cancer cells from normal cells in blood, in an aim to make liquid biopsies the new routine procedure.

“We know that if breast cancer comes back, and has spread to distant sites such as bone or lungs, then it is much harder to treat and in many cases leads eventually to the patient’s death. Liquid biopsies gives us all hope that soon we may be able to detect recurrences earlier than ever possible.

“Liquid biopsies may also show us if the cancer persists after initial treatment, and may help us to learn about the changes occurring in the cells that have allowed the cancer to spread, thus enabling doctors to give more successful personalised therapy.

“Research studies focused on circulating tumour cells are taking place worldwide, and although a lot of work still has to be done, it gives researchers, health professionals and patients a lot to aim for in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer and other cancer types.”

Thursday, 4 February 2016 is World Cancer Day and the theme is ‘We can. I can.’ and aims to highlight how everyone can do their part to reduce the burden of cancer. NBCF is 100% community-funded and thanks to NBCF supporters more than $127 million has been awarded to research studies, like Professor Saunders’ and her team at Queensland University of Technology, that have the potential to change and save lives of Australians with breast cancer.

You can help simply by taking part in a fun event such as Mother’s Day Classic. The Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic is Australia’s largest breast cancer research fundraiser, every dollar raised goes to NBCF to fund life-changing breast cancer research. For more information visit mothersdayclassic.com.au

In 1994, when NBCF was founded, nearly a quarter of all women diagnosed with breast cancer passed away from the disease within five years of diagnosis. The five-year survival rate is now close to 90%. Through funding life-changing research, NBCF is working towards a goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.