In mothers, non-invasive prenatal fetal testing can detect early cancer

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Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is used to determine the risk of genetic abnormalities in fetal DNA in the mother’s blood. Researchers from Belgium have found that NIPT can also detect maternal cancers at an early stage.

The researchers were looking to improve the accuracy of test results and overcome some of the technologic problems that could leave to false negative or false positive results. Although the test is very reliable, researchers believed they could make it better and also find other abnormalities beyond the traditional trisomy syndromes.

Using the adapted test in more than 6,000 pregnancies, they found three different genetic abnormalities in three women that were not related to either the fetus or the mother. Further examination, including imaging studies, pathologic investigations, and genetic investigations revealed early stage cancers in each of the women: an ovarian carcinoma, a follicular lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Two of the women were treated during pregnancy, one of whom has delivered a healthy girl, and the third had indolent disease that was not considered to be in need of treatment.

Furthermore, follow-up NIPT after chemotherapy showed normalization in the test results, adding the benefit of measuring the effectiveness of treatment to its use. The researchers report that larger scale studies are needed to validate these results, but are confident of making important steps toward having a wide-scale, effective test that both identifies early stage disease and measures the effectiveness of treatment.

In mothers, non-invasive prenatal fetal testing can detect early cancer
In mothers, non-invasive prenatal fetal testing can detect early cancer
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for chromosomal foetal disorders is used increasingly to test for conditions such as Down's syndrome. NIPT examines DNA from the foetus in the mother's blood, and therefore does not carry the risk of miscarriage involved in invasive testing methods.
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