New blood test could be the ‘holy grail of cancer research’

A new blood test can detect 10 types of cancer potentially years before someone becomes ill

A new blood test can detect 10 types of cancer potentially years before someone becomes ill

The "holy grail" of cancer treatment moved a step closer yesterday after a study showed that a simple blood test can spot several forms of the disease at an early stage.

He said: "Far too many cancers are picked up too late, when it is no longer possible to operate and the chances of survival and slim".

Gerhardt Attard, of the John Black Charitable Foundation Endowed Chair in Urological Cancer Research at University College London, told CNN that if research continues at this rate, he believes it could become a common part of cancer diagnosis in as little as five to 10 years.

The "holy grail" of cancer tests could pave the way for a universal screening programme that could save ten of thousands of lives each year.

The findings, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, were based on a sample of 127 lung cancer patients and 580 healthy people.

The number of patients in whom cancers were detected was small.

The results for triple-negative breast cancer were 58 per cent, and the test also detects lung, gullet and head and neck cancers with more than 50 per cent accuracy.

The test works by detecting traces of cancer cells' DNA that is released into the bloodstream.

He said: ‘As the NHS marks its 70th anniversary, we stand on the cusp of a new era of personalised medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases.

The research sampled 1,627 participants, of which 749 were cancer-free and 878 had various types of newly detected, untreated cancer.

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. That is when cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. Until now, the blood tests can detect ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

"The vast majority of medical practice is based upon chief complaint", meaning a patient's first report that's something's wrong, Takabe said, adding, "The excitement about these liquid biopsies is, can we screen people who have absolutely no symptoms, no complaints" but have something in their blood that could hint at cancer? "Potentially this test could be used for everybody", said Klein. "And, in this case applied to a high risk group to show how effective it would be in detecting cancer at its earliest stage".

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