Blood test offers hope of finding cancers before symptoms develop

Blood test offers hope of finding cancers before symptoms develop

A new blood test reportedly able to detect certain types of cancer several years before a person falls ill has been hailed as a major breakthrough.

Doctors say it opens the possibility of treatment for cancers that are often hard or impossible to cure because they can not be detected early enough, saving more lives, and slashing medical costs.

"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now 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. Of those tested, 749 were cancer-free, and 878 were newly diagnosed.

One of the biggest issues with cancer is that it is frequently diagnosed far too late.

The findings will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago this weekend.

The number of patients in whom cancers were detected was small.

Klein and his research team (Stanford University) have conducted a study, in which they found that the test could detect pancreatic, ovarian, liver, and gallbladder cancers.

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A study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins showed promising results about one blood test that allowed them to screen for eight types of cancer.

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 results to be presented at the USA medical conference are for more than 1,400 people, of whom 561 were cancer-free, with no diagnosis, while 845 had been newly diagnosed with the disease. That is when cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.

The initial report, which involved 127 people with stage one to four lung cancer, is part of the larger Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study. Head and neck cancer was detected in 56% of patients.

"There is an unmet need globally for early detection tests for lung cancer that can be easily implemented by health care systems". "And, in this case applied to a high risk group to show how effective it would be in detecting cancer at its earliest stage".

"In stage I disease, surgical interventions are most likely to remove all a patient's cancer and result in a cure - this data is no yet available", Abbosh said.

Brain tumours are very complex and have unique properties, hence further work will be required to determine whether this current test may be useful.

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