Medicine

‘Holy Grail’ Blood Test May Detect Cancer Before Tumors Form

‘Holy Grail’ Blood Test May Detect Cancer Before Tumors Form

The research studied the ability of three different prototype sequencing tests to detect cancer in blood samples from people with early to advanced lung cancers.

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

"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure", said lead study author Dr Eric Klein, from the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, in Ohio.

Initial evidence from an ongoing study suggests a "liquid biopsy" may help spot the first signs of the disease, which is the third most common cancer in the UK.

It can now detect ovarian, pancreatic, liver, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, colorectal, esophageal, lung, head and neck, and breast cancers, but it works best for ovarian and pancreatic forms of the disease. Klein and his fellow researchers plan on presenting their findings to the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. The tests found the cancers in four out of five patients who took it.

The test can detect lung, head and neck, lymphoma, multiple myeloma. colorectal, ovarian, pancreatic, liver, oesophageal and breast cancers.

Nonetheless, liquid biopsies could "dramatically reshape the way that care for cancer and other inherited diseases is delivered", says The Independent.

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Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Our 100,000 genome project already makes England a world leader in applying the medical technologies of the future".

‘Most cancers are detected at a late stage, but this "liquid biopsy" gives us the opportunity to find them months or years before someone would develop symptoms and be diagnosed'.

The test will use blood samples to search for cancer. 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.

'This approach is promising as a multi-cancer screening test, ' they concluded.

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

"In stage I disease, surgical interventions are most likely to remove all a patient's cancer and result in a cure - this data is no yet available", Abbosh said.

It was less able to pick up stomach, uterine and early-stage low-grade prostate cancer.