While there is still much work to be done, detection and treatment of early stage breast cancer have improved tremendously over the last few years. Chemotherapy regimens have become increasingly effective, boosted by the emergence of immunotherapy, and often lead to a ‘pathological complete response’ when given before surgery (known as ‘neoadjuvant therapy’). A pathologic complete response means there is no identifiable tumor in the tissue that is resected by the lumpectomy or mastectomy.
However, there is currently no way to truly know which patients treated for early stage breast cancer enter remission and which ones actually have residual cancer cells in their system (in the absence of obvious metastatic disease).
A recent study published in Science Translational Medicine reported very encouraging news on a test called Targeted Digital Sequencing (or ‘TARDIS’) that could potentially help predict which patients are at high risk of breast cancer recurrence. TARDIS identifies DNA released by breast cancer cells into the bloodstream but is up to 100 times more sensitive than other liquid-biopsy tests currently available or in development.
This could be a huge step forward since TARDIS will potentially help doctors identify patients with early stage breast cancer who may still have residual cancer cells in their bodies after treatment that aren’t otherwise detectable by standard scans and follow-up monitoring.
It is also possible that the test could help remove the need for surgery altogether in women who experience a pathological complete response with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and are shown to have no residual breast cancer DNA in their bodies.
Very exciting news indeed! Read the full article here.