LOS ANGELES (CBS) Faviola Rodriguez beat breast cancer twice. She is back in the lab to get her blood drawn. This time, it's to help other patients.
"Some women participated in research and studies that helped me, so I thought, why not? Let's do it," Rodriguez said.
Researchers at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine are using her DNA to create a blood test that would predict which breast cancer patients are at risk for having their cancer come back and spread to other organs.
"There may be some residual cells are beyond any detection tools today," Dr. Bodour Salhia said.
Salhia says developing a liquid biopsy test is critical. Researchers extract DNA from patients and they test it for five years to see if cancer returns and if the patients who donated blood also have recurrence.
"We want to do a better job of being able to determine which women remain at high risk for metastasis," Salhia said.
To develop this new blood test, researchers are recruiting 500 breast cancer patients from early to late stage.
Rodriguez says arming women with information is how you beat the disease.
"If you know it's going to come back then you're going to be as aggressive as you can," Rodriguez said.
She also says the peace of mind this test could offer would be a huge relief for survivors.
Researchers in this study collected blood from breast cancer patients in California. They plan to collect more DNA samples from breast cancer patients nationwide later this year.