Universal cancer blood test 'a big step'

22 January 2018 09:16

If you're planning a holiday, make sure you get the right insurance you need to cover illnesses.

If you're planning a holiday, make sure you get the right insurance you need to cover illnesses.

A newly developed single blood test has the potential to change the way doctors screen for cancer, researchers claim.

A test has been developed by scientists at John Hopkins University in the US, which screens for eight common forms of cancer as well as identifying the location of the disease.

The test - called CancerSEEK - searches for mutations in 16 genes, and evaluates the levels of eight proteins usually released by people with cancer.

'Change the way we screen for cancer'

Senior author and professor of oncology and pathology Nickolas Papadopoulos, 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."

According to Cristian Tomasetti, associate professor of oncology and biostatistics, the test is "unique" because it looks for both mutated DNA and proteins.

Results

The test was evaluated on 1,005 patients with various forms of cancer, including ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and oesophageal, lung and breast.

Professor of oncology Bert Vogelstein said that, although the test did not spot every cancer, it identified many cancers that would likely otherwise go undetected.

He said it could be a great step towards early detection of the disease and ultimately save lives.

He said: "Many of the most promising cancer treatments we have today only benefit a small minority of cancer patients, and we consider them major breakthroughs. If we are going to make progress in early cancer detection, we have to begin looking at it in a more realistic way, recognising that no test will detect all cancers."

"This test represents the next step in changing the focus of cancer research from late-stage disease to early disease, which I believe will be critical to reducing cancer deaths in the long term."

Holidaymakers with pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, can get peace of mind with specialist travel insurance.

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