Cancer blood test detects eight types of the disease

by Jared Lewis January 20, 2018, 0:26
Cancer blood test detects eight types of the disease

Scientists have informed that they are nearly on the verge of developing a blood test that can detect eight common cancers.

Nevertheless, they believe that this study "lays the conceptual and practical foundation for a single, multi-analyte blood test for cancers of many types".

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have taken a step towards developing a universal blood test for cancer. Those cancers include ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, liver and esophagus.

Dr Maitra, who was not involved in the study, added, however, cancer-like proteins can be shed in patients with inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, and therefore the test may be less accurate when given to sufferers of other conditions. Specificity in targeting was important as false-positives can cause unnecessary hardship on patients.

"We're very, very excited and see this as a first step", said Nickolas Papadopoulos, one of the Hopkins study leaders.

The team behind the test predicted the CancerSEEK test would eventually cost less than $500 per patient.

Some independent experts saw great promise.

Although encouraging, specialists have said more research needs to be done.

"The now available screening tests can also be unpleasant, have associated risks and uptake can be low".

However, one said more work was needed to assess the test's effectiveness at detecting early-stage cancers.

The test isn't ready for doctors' offices just yet.

The test, called CancerSEEK, looks for faults in 16 genes and probes the levels of eight proteins usually released by sufferers. Prostate cancer is not included.

He cautions that screening tests can sometimes harm rather than help. They also looked at 812 people without cancer diagnoses.

All in all, the team managed to identify cancer up to 98 percent of the time and had only a 1 percent false positive rate.

"The sensitivity of the test in stage I cancer is quite low, about 40%, and even with stage I and II combined it appears to be around 60%".

The blood test is known as CancerSEEK. In some cases, early detection could make other treatments more successful.

CancerSEEK costs around £360 per patient, roughly the same price of a colonoscopy. Neither of these attempts has been able to give reliable results. "The proportion of common cancers - breast, lung, colorectal - detected is again not as high as other, rarer cancers".

This has raised hopes that a simple, non-invasive test could one day be used to screen people and catch the disease at an early stage. "A test does not have to be flawless to be useful", Papadopoulos says. The test is sold now in Taiwan for $500, but should cost around $150 in the US, he said.

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