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New blood test could detect cancers before they develop
04 June 2018, 04:45 | Randall Craig
Doctors Call Liquid Biopsies the ‘Holy Grail’: It Could Find 10 Types of Cancer In Early Stage
A blood test could one day save millions by allowing doctors to screen for cancer before patients show symptoms.
Professor Nicholas Turner, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, described the findings as "really exciting" and could be used for "universal screening". "We hope this test could save many lives".
The test screens for cancer by detecting tiny fragments of DNA released by cancer cells into the blood.
The authors, led by Cleveland Clinic in OH, will present their findings at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, and hope the test could be available within five to 10 years for healthy people who are cancer-free.
Among four cancer-free people who tested positive, the U.S. authors say two women were diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer just months later.
The test also detected pancreatic cancer with 80 percent accuracy, hepatobiliary cancer (cancer of the liver, bile duct or gallbladder) with 80 percent accuracy, lymphoma with 77 percent accuracy, multiple myeloma (a cancer of white blood cells) with 73 percent accuracy and colorectal cancer with 66 percent accuracy.
Nonetheless, liquid biopsies could "dramatically reshape the way that care for cancer and other inherited diseases is delivered", says The Independent.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said "new techniques" such as cancer blood tests could "unlock enormous survival gains, as well as dramatic productivity benefits in the practice of medicine".
The test was administered on 749 cancer-free patients and 878 with newly diagnosed but untreated cancer.
There is a "huge interest" in developing liquid biopsy for cancer, Takabe told Live Science, because the tests could have the potential to catch cancer very early. Test results can be expected in about two weeks from when a patient gave a blood sample, The Independent reported.
Head and neck cancer as well as lung cancer were detected with the least accuracy, at 56% and 59%, respectively.
Dr. Klein says the procedure still needs more testing but suggested that this "holy grail" could eventually become a standard screening method for people as they age.
Grail's lung cancer data comes from a wider study that eventually aims to enroll 15,000 participants and cover 20 different types of cancers.
It was less able to pick up stomach, uterine and early-stage low-grade prostate cancer. According to The Telegraph, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) could start using the blood test within the next five years, but some state that figure is overly ambitious.
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