Why I welcome blood test cancer breakthrough

23rd January 2018

Why I welcome blood test cancer breakthrough - close-up of blood vialThe news this week that scientists are closer to developing a universal blood test for cancer is much to be welcomed and an important breakthrough.

A team at John Hopkins University in the US have trialled a method that detects up to eight common forms of the disease simply by taking blood tests.

They were able to do this because tumours release tiny traces of their mutated DNA and proteins that they make into the bloodstream.

The CancerSEEK test looks for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer and eight proteins that are also often released.

The test was trialled on more than 1,000 patients including some with cancer of the oesophagus. Other types of cancer that were tested for include ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon, lung and breast.

Why I welcome blood test cancer breakthrough - close-up of blood being taken

Overall the tests found 70% of the cancers and had a sensitivity of 40% for early stage cancers which are often difficult to detect. While further work needs to be done to verify and test the results in more detail, the news is a significant development. 

Diagnosing cancer earlier when it is suitable for curative treatment is one of the top global priorities in cancer research.

What makes the test even more exciting is that it is non-invasive with minimal impact on the patient, unlike some procedures involved in testing for cancer.

The team at John Hopkins University believe that scientists are now a step closer to developing an annual test designed to catch cancer early and save lives.

A few years ago such a possibility would have seemed beyond the realms of science, but now it is entirely feasible.

For more information about my work visit my CV page, or contact me here.

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