Cancer blood test that finds 8 kinds of tumours sounds 'promising'

A Cheap and Easy Blood Test Could Catch Cancer Early

This blood test, called CancerSEEK, could cost less than $500, which is comparable to or lower than other screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, according to the study.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. announced they had developed the single blood test which can screen for the multiple forms of cancer.

Genetic mutations drive the growth of cancer cells, and dying cells shed some of this mutated DNA into the blood.

Though the technology behind the test took years to refine, the basic concept is simple and bears some similarities to other blood-based cancer detection tests like the prostate specific antigen test, which is sometimes used to screen for prostate cancer. And the test, which was developed using samples from diagnosed cancer patients, will need to be validated "in a more real-world setting, where we will be screening healthy individuals", Joshua Cohen told BioWorld. Another issue with liquid biopsies is the ability to identify the underlying tissue of origin.

Except for identifying blood malignancies, nonetheless, those tests "by and large can't completely tell whether you have tumor or some different noncancerous condition", as indicated by Mayo Clinic's site. The team at John Hopkins initially studied several hundred genes and 40 protein markers, whittling the number down to segments of 16 genes and eight proteins.

Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the oncology society, said results are encouraging, but the test needs more study, especially to see if it gives too many false alarms.

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-Ph.D. student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper's first author. The Nanny star Fran Drescher, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000, started her own cancer foundation that focuses on detecting cancer early on.

The scientists optimized the panel by working to the concept of diminishing returns. The main aim of the blood test is to detect signs of cancer in those people who have not been previously diagnosed with cancer previously. The result was a "small but robust" panel of highly selective DNA markers. But that will bring up questions raised by other screening tests. Last year, Purdue scientists revealed a promising study focusing on a series of proteins that could effectively signpost the presence of cancer.

The test was best at finding ovarian cancer, which it detected up to 98 percent of the time. Using the test on 812 healthy controls, Cancer SEEK produced only seven false-positive results.

One of the most important attributes of a screening test is the ability to detect cancers at relatively early stages, the author point out.

The next steps for the Johns Hopkins research team include ensuring that the test works in patients who are not symptomatic. The sensitivity was 69% or higher for ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers-all types that are hard to detect early.

It also narrowed down the form of cancer, which previously published pan-cancer blood tests have not. "Will this eventually impact patients' care?"

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