Health Care

New blood test offers hope of finding cancers before symptoms develop

New blood test offers hope of finding cancers before symptoms develop

A new liquid biopsy test could detect cancer years before symptoms are apparent, according to research presented today (June 1) at the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) meeting in Chicago.

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

Professor Nicholas Turner, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, described the findings as ‘really exciting' and said that they could potentially be used for ‘universal screening'.

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.

The findings represent a first look how a blood test for early-stage cancer would do at detecting lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States often diagnosed at an advanced stage. While it detected ovarian cancer with 90 percent success rate, for example, only 10 instances of this type of cancer were detected throughout the testing period.

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.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service in England, said: "We stand on the cusp of a new era of personalized medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases".

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The results to be presented at the U.S. medical conference are for more than 1,400 people, of whom 561 were cancer-free, with no diagnosis, while 845 had been newly diagnosed with the disease. A number of different blood tests are also now used to check out things like blood cell count, liver and kidney function, and the presence of substances produced by tumors.

For both ovarian and pancreatic cancer, only 10 cases were detected, while only five people with hepatobiliary cancer were identified. Lung cancer and cancers of the head and neck trailed behind, with 59 and 56 percent detection rates.

"More research is needed but it could be given to healthy adults of a certain age, such as those over 40, to see if they have early signs of cancer".

Brain tumours are very complex and have unique properties, hence further work will be required to determine whether this current test may be useful.

The test will use blood samples to search for cancer.

However, it was less effective at detecting stomach, uterine and early-stage prostate cancer, the authors said.