There is a lot of hype out there when it comes to "new treatment" in the world of cancer. Some of it is just that...Hype. But some of it is real "hope" for cancer patients.
Today's news (here) mentions a procedure that uses "genetic technology to identify DNA fingerprints of tumour cells and to detect these in the blood." According to the article a blood DNA test "that can detect whether a tumour has returned or is responding to therapy has been developed by American scientists".
Dr Velculescu presented his research yesterday (February 18, 2010) in San Diego. According to Velculescu the test will not help with initial diagnosis because it requires a biopsy of a patient's tumour. The DNA of the tumour can be sequenced and compared with that of the patient's healthy (blood) cells to determine if there are genetic defects in the cancer cells that are not present in the patient's healthy cells. This DNA defect can then serve as a biomarker for the patient in terms of whether or not there is tumor progression.
Here's how it works. The test, known as PARE or personalised analysis of rearranged ends, is performed via a biopsy of the patient's tumor cells. The DNA of the tumor can be sequenced and compared to the patient's healthy cells. If there are genetic defects within the tumor that are not present in the healthy cells, the damaged DNA can be used as biomarkers to determine whether or not a tumor is recurring or if there are minute areas still present.
The good news about this is that the test will (hopefully) enable medical professionals to determine whether or not treatment will be beneficial to the patient.
According to that news article the test may be available in less than five years. That's promising. That's hope. And I hope the article is not hype.