Breakthrough in early detection? Blood test should be able to identify over 20 cancers

, Breakthrough in early detection? Blood test should be able to identify over 20 cancers

Researchers at Boston’s renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have developed a blood test designed to detect more than 20 cancers with a high degree of accuracy.

An initial study of around 3,600 subjects showed an overwhelming success. According to scientists, the test could have a positive effect on the survival chances of many patients in the future. The sooner a cancer is detected, the sooner the treatment can start.

The researchers presented their results over the weekend at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress (ESMO) in Barcelona.

The blood test uses the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology. The DNA of humans is examined for chemical markings. To put it simply: If cancer cells are released into the bloodstream when they die off, the test can detect this. Even the original organ or tissue is precisely localized.

Blood test with high accuracy

The study looked at 3583 subjects, 2053 healthy people and 1530 cancer patients with more than 20 different types of cancer (including breast, colon, oesophageal, gallbladder, stomach, head, neck, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancer as well as with multiple myeloma and Lympathetic Leukaemia).

The test detected 76 percent of high-mortality cancers. Even one with early-stage cancer 1, the hit rate was at least 32 percent. As the disease progressed, the test also became more accurate.

  • Stage 2: 76 percent accuracy
  • Stage 3: 85 percent accuracy
  • Stage 4: 93 percent accuracy

If the test detected cancer, this was 99.4 percent correct. Only in 0.6 percent of cases does the test show a false-positive result.

Advance in early detection

“Even early detection of a low percentage of common cancers could result in many patients receiving more effective treatment if the test were used nationwide,” said study leader Geoffrey R. Oxnard.

If cancer was detected, it was even possible for the researchers to locate the tumour or cancer cells 89 percent of the time using the blood test.