‘Liquid Biopsy’ Screens Blood for Cancer Before Symptoms Detectable

By Zoe Papadakis – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

“Liquid biopsies” will enable doctors to screen a patient’s blood for up to 10 different types of common cancers before they even start to show symptoms by picking up on DNA markers related to the disease, as well as measuring certain proteins commonly elevated when cancer is present, Voice of America reported.

For years researchers have been working to develop a quick and easy test that can detect cancer early and the idea of using blood samples to check for the disease has been gaining ground over the last few months, The American Cancer Society noted.

A study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins showed promising results about one blood test that allowed them to screen for eight types of cancer.

Published in the journal Science, the study described how the test clinically detected cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, or breast through assessment of the levels of circulating proteins and mutations in cell-free DNA.

According to the abstract, the test called CancerSEEK was applied to 1,005 patients with non-metastatic cancers and the sensitivities ranged from 69 to 98 percent for the detection of ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus for which there are no screening tests available for average-risk individuals.

At the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago, experts further discussed the concept and how it could help doctors in the future.

At the heart of the research is the hope that the test could become a “universal screening” that could be used to detect cancer in patients.

“This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure,” said Dr Eric Klein, lead author of new research from Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute, The Guardian reported.

That study was carried out in a trial comprising of more than 1,600 people.

Of those, 749 were cancer-free at the time, with no diagnosis, and 878 had been newly diagnosed with pancreatic, ovarian, liver and gallbladder cancers, and the test was correct in at least four out of five patients. It was slightly less accurate with lymphoma and myeloma.

While the blood test is still in the early phases of development, and still required more work, researchers were positive about the results.

“Far too many cancers are picked up too late, when it is no longer possible to operate and the chances of survival are slim,” said Prof Nicholas Turner from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, according to The Guardian.

“The goal is to develop a blood test, such as this one, that can accurately identify cancers in their earliest stages.”

When it comes to cancer survival rates, early detection is key.

Another study looking at the incidence of breast cancer noted that, even with recent strides in treatment, a woman’s chances of surviving breast cancer still partly depend on early detection.

In women diagnosed with cancer in more recent years, nearly all survived at least five years if their tumor was caught when it was less than three-quarters of an inch across, the study found.

And while researchers have been working hard to develop various tests that could help detect the cancer early, the blood biopsy test has offered very promising results.



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