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Provista Blog > Uses of Biomarkers in Breast Cancer Detection.

Provista Blog

Uses of Biomarkers in Breast Cancer Detection.

Posted by Provista Diagnostics on January 12, 2017

According to the National Institute of Health a biomarker is defined as: "a broad subcategory of medical signs that has objective indications of medical state observed from outside the patient, which can be measured accurately and is reproducible". Or in simple terms it is "a measurable substance in an organism whose presence is indicative of some phenomenon such as disease, infection, or environmental exposure". Thus, the use of biomarkers in breast cancer can help aid in the diagnosis of cancer and/or determine the primary origin of the tumor in cases where the cancer has spread to several locations.

Types of biomarkers include: genomic (DNA, RNA and miRNA), Proteomic (proteins or autoantibodies) or Metabolomic (lipids or metabolites).

In the instance of breast cancer, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the higher likelihood of survival. The size and stage at which we can catch breast cancer has improved over the decades due to improved imaging methods and screening programs. However, these methods are reaching limits on how small they can go to detect small breast cancers. This leads to situations where patients might be under or over treated, which can result in extra costs and anxiety to patients, healthcare providers and the healthcare system as a whole. This highlights the need for new technologies and the use of combinations of biomarkers to indicate the path of additional treatment strategies for a patient.

So, what combination of biomarkers complements imaging to detect breast cancer?

Protein biomarkers can help detect breast cancer in patients when used in combination with imaging.

Tumor-Associated Autoantibodies (TAAbs);

TAAbs: are the body's immune response that are released into the bloodstream when the presence of tumor proteins are detected. TAAbs are stable, highly specific and easily detected in serum.

Serum Protein Biomarkers (SPBs);

SPBs: are produced either by the host, surrounding environment or tumor including proteins involved in, but not limited to, inflammation, angiogenesis and cell growth. In the presence of cancer, these processes can aid in tumor development and/or progression.

It has been conclusively demonstrated that by including both SPBs and TAAb’s with the same signature, we are able to capture cancer signals from eight of the ten “Hallmarks of Cancer.” Other advantages of this approach include: proteins are constantly changing as a consequence of disease progression and therefore provide insight into biological processes associated with cancer development, a protein itself is the biological endpoint that is responsible for cellular function (the product of an active gene) and finally, proteins provide real-time information on the physiological state of the patient. These advantages demonstrate how this comprehensive approach of combining protein biomarkers and breast imaging is the key to improving current methods of breast cancer detection.


Provista Diagnostics

Provista Diagnostics

At Provista Diagnostics, our mission is to develop world-class diagnostic tests for indications in breast and gynecologic cancers. As a leading diagnostics company, our aim is to create, produce and market innovative solutions for unmet clinical needs. Our products and services help to diagnose diseases and inform better clinical decisions, thus enhancing women’s health and quality of life. We do this in a responsible and ethical manner with a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.