Tumor Marker Assay Helps Identify the Recurrence of Breast Cancer

The monitoring of breast and other types of cancer with blood tests is critical for improving the odds of successful treatment. Discovering cancer markers that identify the progression of cancer at early stages is a research goal for many medical institutions.

Based on their research conducted in the late eighties and early nineties, Dr. Donald W. Kufe, M.D., and colleagues at the DanaFarber Cancer Institute in Boston, developed a monoclonal antibody that recognizes the MUC1 glycoprotein. MUC1 is aberrantly overexpressed by most carcinomas of the breast, lung, ovary and other sites. Dr. Kufe’s research showed that MUC1 is released by tumor cells into the blood and that the level of MUC1 in the circulation reflects the extent of disease.

This highly accurate blood analysis is regarded as one of the most sensitive tests for detecting breast disease.

Today the blood test, also known as the CA15-3 radioimmunoassay, is commercially available to the clinical community under a license granted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Measured over time, CA15-3 can detect the recurrence of cancer, more quickly than standard methods of follow-up testing, especially for patients already treated for Stage II or Stage III breast cancer. CA15-3 is supported by more than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies and is one of the most widely used cancer detection markers in the world.

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