A groundbreaking blood test that uses artificial intelligence to recognize signs of brain tumors can be used by the NHS.
Scientists hope that the diagnostic tool could be rolled out within 18 months of promising research results.
The test was able to identify signs of gliomas, the most common form of brain tumor, with a success rate of 90 percent.
Brain tumors often cause ambiguous symptoms such as headache, memory or vision problems. A scan is currently the only reliable way to recognize them.
By the time a patient is diagnosed, they may have seen their doctor dozens of times and are in a late stage of the disease.
The new blood test looks for chemical evidence of brain tumors in the blood and can produce results & # 39; within a few hours & # 39; to give.
Doctors could notice earlier signs of a brain tumor thanks to a new blood test (stock image)
The University of Edinburgh team said that the same technique can be adapted to other types of cancer, such as ovary, pancreas and intestine.
More than 9,000 people a year in the UK have diagnosed primary brain tumors, about half of whom are cancerous.
In general, only 15 percent of patients with a brain tumor will survive five years or more after being diagnosed.
But this can all change if the test ends up in the clinic, which can be within 18 months, The Telegraph reports.
Dr. Paul Brennan, senior clinical teacher and honorary consultant neurosurgeon at the University of Edinburgh, UK, said that at least 2,000 cases a year were not detected early enough.
& # 39; Brain tumors reduce life expectancy by an average of 20 years. That is the highest form of cancer, & he said.
& # 39; We know that 62 percent of patients are diagnosed in the emergency department, even though they may have seen their doctor several times before. This is because the diagnosis of brain tumors is so difficult.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A BRAIN TUMOR?
Common symptoms of a brain tumor include:
- Severe, persistent headache
- Epileptic attacks
- Feeling persistently sick (nausea),
- Vomiting and sleepiness
- Mental or behavioral changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Vision or speech problems
& # 39; Headache can be a sign of a brain tumor, but it is probably something else and it is not practical to send many people for a brain scan, in case it is a tumor. The challenge is to determine who should be given priority for an urgent scan. & # 39;
The blood test was tested on 400 patients with possible signs of brain tumor who had been referred for a brain scan at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Of these, 40 were found to have a brain tumor and the test was able to correctly identify 82 percent of the cancers.
It also correctly identifies 84 percent of people who did not have brain tumors, which means that it rarely incorrectly indicates that there is a tumor.
Dr. Matthew Baker from the University of Strathclyde worked on the research and said: “These results are very promising because they suggest that our technique can accurately determine who probably has a brain tumor and who probably doesn't.
& # 39; Because the technique requires only a small blood sample, it offers the opportunity to test a large number of people with suspicious symptoms. & # 39;
It is based on an existing technique, called infrared spectroscopy, which is capable of reading the chemical compounds in blood.
The AI program, which runs on a laptop, then analyzes the results for certain patterns that indicate the presence of a brain tumor.
It indicates whether a patient needs a scan.
Sarah Jefferies, clinical director for cancer at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, who was not involved in the study, said: “This type of testing offers a number of potential benefits.
& # 39; It is relatively easy for the patient, who only needs to undergo a blood test. For healthcare, it could be combined with clinical assessment to make the process of referring patients for brain scans more efficient.
& # 39; We look forward to a further review of this technique. The test can produce a result within a few hours. & # 39;
Researchers are now planning a trial of 600 additional patients referred for a brain scan via a general practitioner or victim unit.
In the US, nearly 80,000 people will be diagnosed with primary brain tumors within a year. About 16,000 people will die.
The findings were presented at the annual cancer conference of the National Cancer Research Institute in Glasgow.
WHAT IS A GLIOMA – THE MOST COMMON FORM OF BRAIN TUMOR?
Gliomas are brain tumors that begin in the glial cells.
Glial cells surround neurons and help support and protect nerve cells.
About 2,200 glioma cases are diagnosed in the UK every year, statistics show.
And the tumors affect two in three out of every 100,000 adults in the US every year.
The most common type of glioma is an astrocytoma, which originates from cells called astrocytes.
Unspecified gliomas occur when a doctor cannot tell the exact tumor quality or where it started.
Low-grade tumors, which grow slowly, do not need to be treated immediately and are followed via & # 39; watchful waiting & # 39 ;.
About half of the low-grade tumors must be operated on within two to three years after monitoring.
Surgery can be performed to remove as much of a low-grade tumor as possible, which is known as debulking.
Radiation therapy can then be performed if much of the tumor remains.
Chemo can be recommended instead of radiotherapy if a patient has a specific genetic mutation.
High-quality gliomas require surgery, which can be followed by radiotherapy.
This does not cure the tumor, but wants to keep it under control.
Chemo can also be recommended.
Source: Cancer Research UK
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