New blood test offers hope of early cancer diagnosis


Working with blood samples of 1,005 people with one of the eight different cancer types, researchers used CancerSEEK to reliably identify the tumors in 70 percent cases.

Their experimental test, dubbed CancerSEEK, focuses on eight major cancers: lung, breast, colon, pancreas, liver, stomach, ovary and esophagus. Ross said that ovarian cancer patients in particular have biomarkers that are easier to detect and can skew the sensitivity results of blood tests.

The test works by screening blood tests for key proteins and gene mutations which indicate the presence of cancer.

In other cases, the test also gave information about the tissue that the cancer had originated from - a feat the team said has been hard in past.

The effectiveness of CancerSEEK varied widely depending on the cancer: it detected 98% of ovarian cancers, but only 33% of breast cancer cases.

However, where there are proven screening tests that lead to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes, such as colonoscopy screening for bowel cancer, these are typically unpleasant. "If we're able to pick it up early, then we can significantly improve the chances of curing patients".

The study had some limitations, including that the patients in the study already had been diagnosed with cancer, mostly based on symptoms.

The examination had a few restrictions, incorporating that the patients in the investigation as of now had been determined to have disease, for the most part in light of manifestations.

With the exception of detecting blood cancers, however, those tests "generally can't absolutely tell whether you have cancer or some other noncancerous condition", according to Mayo Clinic's website.

Cristian Tomasetti, associate professor of oncology and biostatistics, said the test is unique because it looks for both mutated DNA and proteins.

Science is a step closer to a one-stop early-detection cancer screening. The test was carried out on 812 healthy controls and produced only seven false-positive results.

Being able to identify cancer at an early enough stage so that it responds to the existing therapies is one of the greatest challenges associated with successful treatment. For each of these tumour types there are now no screening tests available - blood based or otherwise.

The average age of the patients at diagnosis was 64. The CancerSEEK test demonstrated a median sensitivity of 73% for the most common stage evaluated (Stage II), 78% for Stage III cancers, and lower 43% for Stage I cancers.

The researchers looked for ways to make their liquid biopsy more sensitive without also raising the risk of a false-positive result. Furthermore, it doesn't say how advanced the cancer is.

Researchers have taken a step towards developing a universal blood test for cancer - one that can detect the devastating disease early and effectively. The new blood detected signs of cancer in nearly 70 percent of the cancer patients. And the test isn't as good as it could be for the earliest possible stages of cancer, Roschewski noted.