New research suggests blood test may detect cancer
A new blood test has the potential to check for more than 50 types of cancer, before any signs or symptoms, according to new research published in Annals of Oncology.
The researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, working with UK colleagues from The Francis Crick Institute and University College London, suggest the blood test could help diagnose cancers earlier, when they are easier to treat.
The test looks for telltale chemical changes to bits of genetic code - cell-free DNA - that leak from cancer cells into the bloodstream.
The researchers tested more than 4,000 samples from patients - some with and some without cancer. More than 50 types of cancer, such as bowel, lung and ovarian, were included. In 96% of the samples, the test accurately detected the type of cancer.
Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “This is exciting research and has the potential to help diagnose cancers in the future, however it needs some refinement. This includes making the test more reliable at detecting cancer at an earlier stage, as currently it’s more accurate in detecting more advanced cancers.
“Multi-cancer testing could help reduce the length of time to a diagnosis by looking for several cancers at once. The blood test also has the potential to provide more information about where the cancer is, which will help clinicians to quickly refer patients to further diagnostic tests. The earlier the cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.”
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