A blood test that could identify cancerous tumors even before a person shows signs of symptoms may soon help cut down on cancer cases.
Researchers have made a leap in cancer research by creating a test that is sensitive to mutated DNA and cancer-related proteins, The Guardian reports. The new test, called CancerSEEK, gave a positive result around 70% of the time in eight of the most common cancers across over a thousand patients.
The test could be used in the future for routine screening to raise the number of patients who get treatment early, at a time before cancer shows up on traditional scans.
Nickolas Papadopoulos, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University and senior author on the paper, said,
The use of a combination of selected biomarkers for early detection has the potential to change the way we screen for cancer, and it is based on the same rationale for using combinations of drugs to treat cancers.
In addition, the test could identify the kind of cancer a patient had, which is something previous blood tests have not succeeded in doing. The test works by identifying free-floating mutated DNA, looking for the presence of abnormalities in 16 genes that are often mutated in various types of cancer. The test also tested patients’ blood for protein biomarkers which can be seen depending on where the tumor is located.
Ovarian cancer turned out to be the easiest to detect, followed by liver, stomach, pancreas, esophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers.
When the test was done of 812 healthy people, there were only seven false-positive results. Kenneth Kinzler, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins and a co-author of the paper, said, “Very high specificity was essential because false-positive results can subject patients to unnecessary invasive follow-up tests and procedures to confirm the presence of cancer.”
The study was published in the journal Science.