The blood test that checks FIFTY types of cancer: scientists can search for DNA released by tumors and use it to identify patients with cancer, even if they have no symptoms
- The new blood test looks for DNA that tumors release into the blood
- It can even identify cancer in people who don’t yet show symptoms
- Researchers can identify the location of the cancer with 96% accuracy
A simple blood test appears to detect more than 50 types of cancer.
The test, which looks for DNA that releases tumors into the blood, would identify those with cancer, even if they have no symptoms.
Such a blood test is the ‘holy grail’ for cancer research, although more work is needed to find one that works perfectly. By looking at the blood of hundreds of people, American researchers discovered the percentage of the body with which their cancer was 96 percent accurate.
A simple blood test has been found to detect more than 50 types of cancer, even if people have no symptoms
The test misdiagnosed people with cancer less than 1 percent of the time. But even in 12 of the cancers that picked up the most, including ovarian and lung cancers, it missed about a third of cancers, many of which were early stages.
The scientists who developed the test and calculated its accuracy for more than 1,200 people hope it will someday save lives.
Dr. Minetta Liu, lead author of a breakthrough research paper, said, “A blood test that can detect multiple cancers in seemingly healthy people who have no symptoms suggests that people may be diagnosed earlier.
“This leads to the possibility of fewer recurrences and more courses, which reduces the chance of dying from cancer.”
Researchers have trained a computer algorithm to find cancer using blood tests of more than 3,000 patients and healthy people.
Then they tested how well it worked on 654 with cancer and 610 that were cancer-free. Only a handful got a ‘false positive’ result, which falsely suggested they had cancer.
Conventional screening, such as mammograms, has been criticized for the high false positives, while the new blood tests had a higher success rate
Conventional screening, such as mammograms, has been criticized for its high percentage. The test fared less well when it came to missing cancer, with the results suggesting that more than 55 percent might yield ‘false negative’ results.
However, the authors point out that not all cancers release DNA into the blood.
The exciting finding from the study is that the blood test can find cancer in people with no symptoms. Researchers said some of those found positive for cancer were seemingly healthy, with their cancer picked up only through screening or by chance during a medical exam.
The test excelled in 12 types of cancer, including lung and ovarian, stomach, and lymphoma. For this, the number of possibly missed cancers was 32.7 percent.
For pancreatic cancer, one of the biggest killers because it’s rarely found early enough, the blood test found it 63 percent of the time at its earliest stage.
Funded and developed by the American company Grail, the test works by detecting a tumor’s DNA and a certain ‘pattern’ in which that DNA is altered, which is seen in cancer patients.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, found that the test was better at detecting more advanced cancers.
Dr. David Crosby of Cancer Research UK said, “The initial results are encouraging. If the test can be refined to more efficiently catch cancer in the earliest stages, it can become a tool for early detection.
“But more research is needed to improve the test’s ability to catch early cancers.”