The ‘Holy Grail’ of cancer research is a blood test that can detect ten different types of cancer years before symptoms appear.
Researchers in the United States have discovered a simple test that can detect early signs of cancers such as breast, ovarian, bowel, and lung cancers, as well as other cancers. It picks up DNA fragments that cancer cells release into the bloodstream.
More than 1,400 people were tested, and the triple test had a success rate of up to 90% in the study. A few months later, two women who had previously been cancer-free were found to have ovarian and endometrial cancer, according to research conducted by researchers in the United States.
The Holy Grail of Cancer Research
It is hoped that this test will be available to cancer-free individuals within five to ten years, according to the study’s authors, who are all affiliated with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“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,” said Dr. Eric Klein, a lead author from Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute: “We hope this test could save many lives.”
‘Most cancers are discovered late in their development, but this ‘liquid biopsy’ allows us to find them months or even years before someone develops symptoms and is diagnosed.’
More than 1,400 people were included in the study, 561 of whom were cancer-free and had never been diagnosed, while 845 were newly diagnosed. It is expected that the results of the blood test they received will be available within one to two weeks in the real world. More than half of the time, it detected early signs of cancer in the blood of patients with 10 different types of cancer.
Ovarian and pancreatic cancers were diagnosed in 90% and 80% of cases, respectively. Liver and gallbladder cancers were successfully detected in four out of five patients. Two-thirds of people with bowel cancer were correctly diagnosed with lymphoma and myeloma thanks to the accuracy of 77% and 73% respectively. The test’s accuracy in detecting lung, gullet, and head and neck cancers is greater than 50%, and it was 58 percent accurate in detecting triple-negative breast cancer. It was less able to detect stomach, uterine, and early-stage low-grade prostate cancers with this technique.
“This test could be used for everyone, regardless of their family history,” said Dr. Klein, whose research team included members from Stanford University.
For the time being, more research is required, but it could be given to healthy adults over 40 years old in order to check for signs of early-stage breast cancer. Whole-genome sequencing is used in the test. It may be more sensitive than previous tests, however, according to academics. There is currently only one blood test available to diagnose people with cancer before they discover a lump or their first sign of illness. PSA testing for prostate cancer is notoriously unreliable.
More sensitive than previous tests
Testing the entire genome for DNA fragments first, followed by searching for specific mutations, and finally DNA methylation – a process that alters the function of genes in cancer patients – are the three components of the new test. There are advantages to ‘liquid biopsies’ for early cancer detection over traditional biopsies that remove tissue from someone’s body, such as a portion of the breast or lung.
Prof. Nicholas Turner referred to the findings as really exciting’ and said they could be used for ‘universal screening’ at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.
‘Far too many cancers are discovered too late when surgery is no longer an option and the chances of survival are slim,’ he explained.
In order to develop a blood test that can accurately detect cancer in its earliest stages, one like this must be developed.
However, ‘this particular test is really exciting, but it’s going to be a few years before it’s ready for clinical use,’