Checking your breasts for unusual lumps or, if you’re a woman between the ages of 50 and 70, having a routine screening every three years on the NHS, is the only way to detect early signs of breast cancer. But following a recent study, researchers are confident this may change in the future.
A new blood test that detects cancer more than a year before any symptoms appear could dramatically improve survival rates. The test works by searching for raised levels of a certain protein that is known to increase once cancer has developed in the body. The study, carried out by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, found that the protein called epidermal growth factor receptor was already detectable up to 17 months before women were diagnosed with breast cancer.