This news is a little bit personal for me…because multiple women in my family have suffered from breast cancer over the years. I know first-hand how long and difficult the treatment process can be. Well, there might be some good news in the battle against this disease. A recent study found that a simple blood test may accurately predict if breast cancer will return in some women. And that could potentially shorten the treatment process for many people.
They’re known as liquid biopsies, and they look for stray cancer cells floating around in the blood. The hope is that someday, we might be able to use these tests to shorten the amount of time that women have to stay on hormone-blockers after receiving treatment. Hormone-blockers can have unpleasant side effects, and many women may not need to stay on them for as long as the current guidelines suggest.
Women should follow the advice of the American Cancer Society to stay up to date on the official guidelines. But here are a few tips for viewers out there:
- Know the warning signs.
- Talk to your doctor early to come up with a plan.
- Be aware of your family history and risk level.
- Keep up with recommended screenings and mammograms.
The blood tests are available now, but insurers claim they haven’t seen evidence proving the tests reliably predict cancer. So most insurers don’t cover them. The tests can cost up to $1,000, so they’re an expensive option. But doctors are calling for more research, and the price tag could soon drop.