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Montreal Gazette - Breast cancer research at McGill could make mammography obsolete

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Published: 10 Apr 2012

Scientists at McGill University have crossed a critical threshold in developing a blood test that could one day detect breast cancer at very early stages and might even render mammography screening obsolete.

Scientists at McGill University have crossed a critical threshold in developing a blood test that could one day detect breast cancer at very early stages and might even render mammography screening obsolete.

Scientists have worked for years on such blood tests without much success. But the McGill team — including scientists specializing in nanotechnology, chemistry and oncology — have made improvements to the existing technology while discovering a biomarker "signature" for a common subtype of breast cancer — that which is estrogen receptor-positive.

The findings are published in the April edition of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. "Mammography is slow and expensive, and it's uncomfortable," said David Juncker, the team's principal investigator and an associate professor in McGill's department of biomedical engineering.

"So here the idea is you could do a test in a droplet of blood, and it could be more accurate than a mammograph. From this small study we cannot really make the claim, but the hope is that this could become more accurate."

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