New research suggests that a blood test five years after breast cancer treatment may help identify some women who are likely to relapse, long before a lump or other signs appear.

The findings are considered preliminary, and more research is needed to determine whether and which women may benefit from these tests.

They’re called liquid biopsies, and they look for stray cancer cells that tumors can shed into the blood. The tests are sometimes used now to monitor patients with advanced cancer during treatment.

This was the largest study to look at them for predicting relapse in women with breast cancers that are fueled by estrogen, the most common form of the disease.

Results were discussed Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.


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