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Maybe Someday a Test

A new study says that signs of breast cancer may be able to be picked up in the blood before any other symptoms, the Guardian reports. It notes, though, that other researchers caution that the work is preliminary.

The Guardian writes that researchers from Nottingham University's School of Medicine examined antigens within the blood of patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer and compared them to those seen in the blood of healthy people. Through this, they found auto-antibodies that could be used to identify people with breast cancer. "We were able to detect cancer with reasonable accuracy by identifying these auto-antibodies in the blood," Nottingham's Daniyah Alfattani tells the paper, which adds that she was to present the result this weekend at the National Cancer Research Institute conference. "Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease."

Cambridge University's Paul Pharoah and Warwick University's Lawrence Young both tell the Guardian, though, that more work is needed to support the claim that such a test could detect cancer early. The paper adds that Alfattani and her colleagues are planning to test their approach in some 800 additional samples.