Towards a blood test to detect breast cancer

Since 2020, Professor Rüegg and his team have been working on a project to establish a blood test to detect breast cancer, as an alternative to mammography. In an initial clinical study involving around a hundred women (GENOA 1), they were able to demonstrate the molecular changes (biomarkers) present in the blood of women with cancer, compared with women without cancer. Analyses have identified the best combination of biomarkers to use to successfully screen for breast cancer.

The results obtained to date demonstrate a detection efficiency far superior to that of mammography. Data analysis for the detection of metastatic relapse is currently underway. Based on these results, a second study has been launched (GENOA 2), with three aims. Firstly, to validate the combination of biomarkers on an independent group of patients using a technology used in medical analysis laboratories. Secondly, to analyse the specificity of this combination in relation to other cancers and thirdly, to determine whether inflammatory conditions could hamper our test. The study is continuing in collaboration with our clinical partners in Fribourg (HFR), Lausanne (CHUV, Centre d'Imagerie du Flon, CCAC) and Neuchâtel (RHNe). As with the first study, the samples will be analysed by researchers from the University of Fribourg and their collaborators. The first results are expected at the end of 2024. Positive results would pave the way for the development of a real screening test in kit form, for use in medical analysis laboratories.

The availability of a blood test could completely change the way women are screened for breast cancer. The test could be applied to younger women, more frequently, at lower cost, and with greater efficacy than mammography.


This second study is supported by a generous foundation that wishes to remain anonymous. Our sincere thanks to this foundation.