There has been progress made by Scientists as reports are being made that blood tests may now identify as many as eight different types of cancer and help to detect cancer early. These types of cancer can be detected at an early stage with this cancer screening test,, with even the most deadly types being detectable.
Groups are working on liquid biopsy tests that scan for DNA and other tumour debris in blood. This would assist Doctors in detecting cancer in its earliest stage, when opportunities for a cure are best.
A study led by Scientists at John Hopkins University looked at how their experimental test would work in detecting cancer in those already known to have the disease. The tests from blood found 70% of 8 common types of cancer could be detected from a sample of some 1,005 patients. The tests varied, subject to the type of cancer; lower for Breast Cancer and higher for Ovarian, Liver and Pancreatic Cancers.
Frequently, the tests were able to pinpoint the cancer origin to one or two places, such as the lung or colon. The test has proven to be successful, as with another example, it gave only 7 false alarms when tried on 812 others who do not have the disease. In this way, it’s best to detect cancer by age ranges which are both young or elderly, as in both cases, more treatment may be accessible.
While the test is promising, it isn’t ready to be used more widely, yet; it needs to be validated with another study, which is already ongoing in a general population of those who do not have cancer. The outcome which is desired is to see if it can truly save lives- the most important value of screening.
Nickolas Papadopoulos, a Hopkins study leader mentions that “we are excited for this first step” but “we don’t want people calling yet” as the test isn’t available.
Experts see great promise from the findings of the experimental tests for cancer. As Dr. Peter Bach says, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “It’s a great set of results”.
Dr. Len Lichenfeld, a deputy chief medical officer from the American Cancer Society, found the study encouraging in finding cancers that lack screening now. Lichenfeld observed that if a test could find 98% of Ovarian Cancer at an early stage, the results would offer a “significant difference”.
The test finds mutations in 16 genes associated with cancer and measures 8 proteins that are prevalent when cancer is present.
It covers Breast, Colon, Lung and five other tests that don’t have screening for those at average risk: Ovarian, Liver, Stomach, Pancreatic and Oesophageal. Unfortunately, Prostate Cancer isn’t included. A test for this already exists, the PSA test, which is controversial.
Researchers tried the new test on those whose cancers were isolated to where it had begun but not spread. The results detected 33% of Breast Cancers, 60% of Colon and Lung Cancers and almost all of the cancers which are Ovarian and Liver. The test performed better when the tumours were large and wide spread and less well when it was at its earliest stage.
The name of the test is more widely known as cancerSEEK.
Researchers warn that the test is likely to not work as well in a wider general population as oppose to those who are already known to have cancer. Hopkins and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania have now started a study of it in 10,000 Geisinger patients. The patients will be tracked for five years.
The work received funding from several foundations. Such as: the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health and Howard hughes Institute. Study leaders have good relationships with gene testing companies. The test would cost around $500, however, the intention is to commercialise the test, so a confirmed cost is unknown.
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Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute