New Blood Test Could Find 10 Different Types of Cancer at an Early Stage

Sunday, June 3, 2018 - 09:25

Scientists from Stanford University have done a blood test to diagnose 10 different types of cancers that could one day help doctors screen for the disease before patients show symptoms.

The test, called a liquid biopsy, screens for cancer by detecting tiny bits of DNA released by cancer cells into blood. The test had particularly good results for ovarian and pancreatic cancers, though the number of cancers detected was small, The Guardian reports.

“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,” says Dr. Eric Klein of Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. “We hope this test could save many lives.”

The study was presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said “new techniques” such as cancer blood tests could “unlock enormous survival gains, as well as dramatic productivity benefits in the practice of medicine”.

Researchers did note, however, that further “clinical development” was needed. They’d also need more test subjects, as the sample sizes were on the small side for a study of this type. 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.

Still, the research shows promise in a blood-based approach to future cancer screening.

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