Blood tests can detect five types of cancer FOUR YEARS before symptoms appear, including tumors in the lungs and liver
- PanSeer test can detect stomach, esophagus, colon, lung and liver cancer
- Their findings can help identify people at high risk of developing the disease
- Plasma samples analyzed from 605 people who had no symptoms
A simple blood test can detect five types of cancer up to four years before symptoms appear, scientists claim.
The ‘liquid biopsy’, called PanSeer, analyzes blood samples for small DNA fragments released by stomach, esophagus, colon, lung and liver tumors.
Research found that it could detect the different types of cancer up to four years before standard diagnostic methods.
The scientists behind the study said the test was unlikely to predict cancer, but instead discovered tumors that had not yet caused any symptoms.
It is hoped that liquid biopsies will revolutionize cancer diagnostics by catching slow-growing cancers years in advance without using invasive methods.
Current screening techniques include imaging tests or conventional biopsies – in which part of an organ is surgically removed to be inspected for signs of the disease.
A new blood test can detect five types of cancer up to four years before symptoms appear, according to a new study. Stock photo
HOW TO TELL IF A LUMP CAN BE CANCER
Cancer Research UK says that any lumps or swelling that don’t go away should be taken seriously and deserve a doctor’s opinion.
Most cancers produce tumors, which are clumps of cells that can produce noticeable nodules if they are close to the skin’s surface.
If you are unable to explain where a lump is coming from and it is not associated with a physical injury such as a bruise, it may be cause for concern.
Cancer lumps are usually hard and painless to touch, although they can sometimes hurt. Palpable lumps usually appear in the breasts, testicles, neck, or armpits, but may also appear on the arms or legs.
If the appearance of the lump is accompanied by feelings of severe fatigue, night sweats, shortness of breath, or unexplained weight loss, it could be a sign of cancer.
Always see a doctor if you are concerned about a lump or the above symptoms.
Research teams around the world have become liquid biopsies.
Few have been able to recognize tumors before symptoms occur.
Experts have praised the “exciting” results of the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.
But they cautioned that it’s too early to say the breakthrough test really works and called for larger trials involving thousands of patients to confirm the early results.
The new test searches blood plasma DNA to look for unique signatures delivered by tumors called methyl groups.
Professor Kun Zhang, one of the authors of the study and based at the University of California, San Diego, said, “The ultimate goal would be to routinely perform such blood tests during annual health checks.
“But the immediate focus is to test higher-risk people based on family history, age, or other known risk factors.”
The authors analyzed samples of plasma – a straw-colored liquid in the blood – from 605 people who showed no symptoms from any of the five different types of cancer.
Nearly 200 of the participants later diagnosed one of the diseases.
The scientists also looked at samples from another 223 diagnosed cancer patients to train the test so it knew how to recognize tumors by scouring the blood.
The results showed that PanSeer was able to recognize cancer in 95 percent of participants who had no symptoms when the samples were collected and diagnosed with the disease only later.
It also flagged cancer in 88 percent of the samples from 113 patients already diagnosed with the disease.
The technique involves detecting the telltale signs of cancer based on very small levels of tumor DNA circulating in the blood.
In addition, the test correctly identified healthy samples 95 percent of the time.
Blood tests to detect cancer have become the focus of numerous scientific studies in recent years as they provide a way to screen patients without the need for invasive surgery.
But the researchers said their work is unique in that they had access to blood samples from patients who had no symptoms.
This enabled them to develop a test that “can find cancer markers much earlier than conventional diagnostic methods.”
The researchers wrote, “These results demonstrate that cancer can be detected non-invasively up to four years before current standard care.”