Image source: Adobe Stock/motorolka

News • cfDNA to assess tumours

Recurrent breast cancer: liquid biopsy improves detection, monitoring

Liquid biopsy performed on serum samples taken from breast cancer patients can provide increasingly accurate information on cancer progression and enable earlier detection of cancer recurrence, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital shows.

The findings were published in Cancers

Breast cancer tumour cells are known to differ in both genetic and biological properties. This phenomenon is known as intratumoural heterogeneity. From the perspective of cancer treatment, intratumoural heterogeneity is a major challenge because cancer cells with different biological properties may have a different response to treatment. It is possible that some cancer cells tolerate treatment well enough to survive, which can lead to recurrent breast cancer later on. “Time is a key factor in intratumoural heterogeneity. Over time, the spectrum and properties of cancer cells tend to change and develop in a direction that is more therapeutically challenging,” Doctoral Researcher Jouni Kujala from the University of Eastern Finland says. “In addition, tumour samples are representative at the time of sampling only, and intratumoural heterogeneity cannot really be monitored much after sampling.”

Based on our results, liquid biopsy is a promising method that can supplement the information obtained using traditional diagnostic methods

Arto Mannermaa

Liquid biopsy that utilises biomarkers released by cancer cells has been proposed as a possible method for the early detection of recurrent breast cancer, and for the monitoring of cancer progression. A major advantage of liquid biopsy over traditional tumour biopsy is the ease, safety and repeatability of sampling. In particular, liquid biopsy focuses on cell-free DNA released by cancer cells, which is known to carry mutations characteristic of the cancer tumour. This has enabled a new way of detecting cancer mutations without having to do a biopsy of the cancer tumour itself. “Our results show that liquid biopsy can be used to detect cancer mutations both from breast cancer tumours and their metastases. This provides further support for our hypothesis that liquid biopsy can, at least to some extent, be used to overcome the limitations of traditional biopsy.” 

The researchers observed mutations characteristic of recurrent breast cancer in cell-free DNA months before the recurrent cancer was detected during a medical examination. With the mutations observed, the researchers were also able to assess changes in intratumoural heterogeneity, and to establish a more accurate understanding of the clinical picture. “By monitoring the cancer mutations detectable from cell-free DNA, it is possible not only to detect recurrent breast cancer but also to identify mutations that are relevant to treatment planning and thus to support medical professionals’ decision-making,” Professor Arto Mannermaa from the University of Eastern Finland explains. “Based on our results, liquid biopsy is a promising method that can supplement the information obtained using traditional diagnostic methods, and it can provide increasingly accurate information on the development and recurrence of breast cancer.” 

Source: University of Eastern Finland


Read all latest stories

Related articles


Article • Immuno-oncological biomarkers

Seeking to augment the value of tumour infiltrating lymphocytes

Measuring tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) is gaining importance in immunotherapy, but other variables must also be considered to boost prognosis and prediction accuracy, a leading pathologist…


News • Patient-derived whole-tumor cell culture model

Breast cancer: New method finds the right therapy

Swedish researchers have developed a method that should be able to predict whether a patient with breast cancer will benefit from a particular treatment or not.


News • Liquid biopsy for early detection of brain tumours

Glioblastoma: Mathematical modelling could lead to simple blood test

The development of a simple blood test for glioblastomas could mean earlier diagnosis and more effective and personalised treatment options against the most common type of malignant brain cancer.

Related products

CliniSys – Anatomical Pathology Laboratory

Information Technology

CliniSys – Anatomical Pathology Laboratory

Clinisys Deutschland GmbH
Fujifilm Wako – Autokit Total Ketone Bodies Assay

Clinical Chemistry

Fujifilm Wako – Autokit Total Ketone Bodies Assay

FUJIFILM Wako Chemicals Europe GmbH
Mesalvo – LabCentre

LIS, Middleware, POCT

Mesalvo – LabCentre

Mesalvo Mannheim GmbH
32 Inch Height-Adjustable MRI LED Screen

Accessories / Complementary Systems

allMRI · 32 Inch Height-Adjustable MRI LED Screen

allMRI GmbH
3DQuorum SmartSlices

Artificial Intelligence

Hologic · 3DQuorum SmartSlices

Hologic, Inc.
Subscribe to Newsletter