B.C. researchers hope blood test could be ‘crystal ball’ for cancer treatment

B.C. researchers are hoping a simple blood test could be a “crystal ball” that allows doctors of the future to custom tailor cancer treatment for patients.

Researchers with BC Cancer’s breast cancer team are embarking on a two-year study to look at tiny fragments of DNA from an individual’s cancer known as circulating tumour DNA, or ctDNA.

Scientists believe understanding ctDNA could allow doctors to choose the right drugs and stay one step ahead of the cancer.

The study will be led by Dr. Stephen Chia, a medical oncologist and chair of BC Cancer’s breast cancer tumour group.

“ctDNA represents the next frontier in understanding who and how to treat breast cancers,” he said in a media release.

“We believe this will have critical implications for other cancers, such as lung, colon, ovary, pancreatic and bladder.”

As a part of the study, BC Cancer will begin collecting and analyzing ctDNA from consenting patients across the province.

Recovering breast cancer patient Sanja Simic said she hopes the research could help patients like her deal with the uncertainty of remission in the future.

“You really don’t know if it’s going to come back,” she said.

“And this kind of treatment really has the potential of adjusting the course of treatment and improving and adapting medications and treatments as you go.”

The new study will be conducted with the support of a $1.2 million donation from the Conconi Family Foundation.

— With files from Emily Lazatin

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