We all have to sit for a blood test once in our lifetime. It’s a common process to detect any disease in our body. However, doctors could only find a disease in a blood test when our body starts showing symptoms. Now, researchers at the world’s largest gathering said a new technique of blood test could let doctors screen for cancers before patients show any kind of symptom.
Known as a “liquid biopsy,” this new blood test screens 10 different types of cancers by detecting the very small amount of DNA released by cancer cells into the bloodstream. So far, the test has specifically good results in detecting ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Both of them have significantly lower rates of mortality when detected early enough to perform surgery to remove cancers.
“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, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. “We hope this test could save many lives.”
Scientists from the Stanford University, who also contributed to the study, attended the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago.
The research examined the cases of more than 1600 people. Of them, 878 people had been newly diagnosed with a disease, and 749 people were cancer-free without any diagnosis. The test correctly detected the disease in at least 4 out of 5 patients, with most accuracy in ovarian, liver, pancreatic, and gallbladder cancers.
For other cancers, the blood test was less accurate. It detected head and neck cancer in 56% of patients, lung cancer in 59% of patients, and bowel cancer in 2 out of 3 patients. Tests for myeloma and lymphoma were a bit less accurate, with 73% and 77% detection rates.
According to the researchers, the results of the blood test were promising, but further clinical development was necessary. Besides, they needed more test subjects to gain more accuracy in a study on this type. However, this study is a hope for everyone as a possible universal screening tool. In the near future, blood tests like this could accurately detect cancers in their early stages.