New Way to Test for Breast Cancer in the Works

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- A Sanford researcher has developed a blood test that may make it easier to detect breast cancer. She says it could be a game changer for the over 300 thousand people diagnosed each year.

” I thought well why don’t we use the immune system as a biosensor and let the body tell us what’s going on instead of us looking for the tumor itself,” said Kristi Egland.

By simply drawing blood, doctors may be able to see if their patients have breast cancer or if it has returned.

“I thought we have to do better. There is no sensitive way that we can monitor a patient after she’s been treated for breast cancer to detect cancer in her body and recurrence is actually diagnosed by physical symptoms.>[Duration:0:18]

Egland’s quite the expert on this subject and not just because she researches it, but because she’s lived it.

“I respect my patients and I know what they’re going through and I know what they want. The biggest fear of any cancer patient is will my breast cancer recur, that’s the question, and I want to help answer that question,” said Egland.

She was diagnosed at 37, which came as a complete surprise.

“It’s significant because its very young to be be diagnosed with that and also I had been studying breast cancer for seven years before my diagnosis,” said Egland.

Today is a special day because it’s her eleventh anniversary of being cancer free.

“I still remember the day where they handed me my tumor and I felt like I was finally in control,” said Egland.

She now uses it in her research.

“This yellowish brown, that’s my tumor and when we study it in the lab we actually section it really really thin and it gets put on a microscope slide and we stain it so you can see the cells otherwise it’s clear,” said Egland.

She says while being diagnosed helped motivate her, she has always been passionate about breast cancer research. This just gave her a certain area to focus on and she hopes it can one day be used to help others like her.

“What I found is that although you don’t feel well and you’re tired, life still moves forward. Everyone around you is continuing to do what they always do and you get left behind and then when you do start feeling better you’re like ‘oh my gosh I have so much I need to catch up on.’ But honestly I feel like I’ve finally caught up,” said Egland.

In July Sanford Health will start a clinical study to prove that the blood tests work. They’ll need one thousand patients with and without cancer to take a mammogram and give a blood sample. If people are interested in participating, they can contact Sanford Health.


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