A new blood test could detect symptoms of several types of cancers years before a person falls ill, scientists have said. Therefore, if further research proves successful and the test starts to be used, it could allow doctors to screen patients for certain kinds of cancer, potentially saving many lives.
Three sequencing techniques, analysing cell-free DNA in the blood, were between 38% and 51% accurate at detecting early-stage lung cancers, the research found.
The findings, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, have been hailed by charities as a "very promising" development.
The new study analyzed blood samples from 878 people who were recently diagnosed with cancer and 749 people who did not have cancer. "W$3 e stand on the cusp of a new era of personalized medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases".
"Far too many cancers are picked up too late, when it is no longer possible to operate and the chances of survival and slim", he said. It was best at diagnosing pancreatic, ovarian, liver and gallbladder cancers, accurately pinpointing the diseases in at least four out of five patients.
"It 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".
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.
"The vast majority of medical practice is based upon chief complaint", meaning a patient's first report that's something's wrong, Takabe said, adding, "The excitement about these liquid biopsies is, can we screen people who have absolutely no symptoms, no complaints" but have something in their blood that could hint at cancer?
On average, cancer rates in the United Kingdom have increased by seven per cent in the last decade, however, in women, the number of diagnoses have risen by a whopping nine per cent in the last ten years.
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.
The test detected 90 per cent of ovarian, 80 per cent of pancreatic and two-thirds of bowel cancer cases (66 per cent), according to the research. A number of different blood tests are also now used to check out things like blood cell count, liver and kidney function, and the presence of substances produced by tumors.