Blood test to detect 8 cancers early gives promising results

A Cheap and Easy Blood Test Could Catch Cancer Early

FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) - A multi-analyte blood test, CancerSEEK, can detect eight common cancer types, with high sensitivity and specificity, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Science.

Such tests are particularly challenging: small tumours don't usually release as much DNA into the bloodstream as larger tumours. "That's a very attractive number", says molecular pathologist Anirban Maitra of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, because it is in the range of other cancer screening tests such as colonoscopy.

Professor Richard Marais, from Cancer Research UK, told the BBC it would take at least five to six years before the test could officially be used as an early diagnosis for cancer.

"This is the first step", he said about the study.

Science is a step closer to a one-stop early-detection cancer screening.

How accurate was the test?

This proof-of-concept study is important because it proves the feasibility of developing a fairly non-invasive and potentially low-priced test in blood.

The scientists have pushed ahead with a development, five-year concentrate to additionally assess the blood test, Papadopoulos said in a video chat with correspondents on Friday.

A Cheap and Easy Blood Test Could Catch Cancer Early
Life-Saving Early Cancer Detection Could Be Vastly Improved With New Blood Test

The CancerSEEK test measures circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) from 16 genes and eight protein biomarkers, then uses machine-based learning to analyse the data. The test was able to find 70% of the cancers in the test population. "This is the paper that's going to set the field in motion".

The non-invasive test, called CancerSEEK, simultaneously looks for the presence of ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, bowel, lung and breast cancer, diagnosing tumours before they have spread.

Dr Gert Attard, team leader in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said CancerSEEK had great potential.

CancerSEEK is now being trialled in people who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Only seven of 812, or less than 1%, of healthy controls tested positive.

"We were agreeably shocked that we could identify the measure of tumors that we could distinguish", Papadopoulos said. But that leaves 30% of cancers still undetected.

However starting at now, the examination just "lays the applied and reasonable establishment" for a disease screening blood test and considerably more research should be done before such a test could be broadly utilized, the scientists wrote in the investigation.

But he cautioned: "We have a long way to go to demonstrate its effectiveness as a screening test". "I$3 f we have a test result that is negative we don't want to give false reassurance to the patient", he said. "The sensitivity for the Stage 1 cancers in the study was only 40 per cent", he said.

"The major problem with pancreatic cancer is in 80 to 85 percent of patients, it's picked up too late" says Ann Marie Lennon, of the cancer center.

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