One of the biggest aims in medicine – finding a universal blood tests for detection of cancer, is now a step closer for scientists.
Now detection of eight common forms of cancer have bene tested by a method that was tested by a team at Johns Hopkins University in the U.K.
The vision of the scientists is to save lives by the early detection of cancer through an annual blood test. It was “enormously exciting”, UK experts said.
Small amounts of the mutated DNA and proteins and released by cancerous tumors in the blood stream of patients.
Eight of the proteins that are most often released by tumors and mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer are looked out for by the Cancer Seek test.
Patients with cancers in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colon, lung or breast and which is yet to spread to other tissues were included in the test trials and 1,005 patients were included in the trials.
70 per cent of the cancers were found by the tests on the overall.
“This field of early detection is critical, and the results are very exciting. I think this can have an enormous impact on cancer mortality,” said Dr Cristian Tomasetti, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Cancer patients have a greater chance of getting effective treatment if the disease is found out at the early stage.
There are no screening tests for early detection for five of the eight cancers examined.
For example, four out of five patients die due to pancreatic cancer in the year that they are diagnosed because it has very few detectable symptoms.
According to Dr Tomasetti if cancerous tumors can be detected within the time that they can be removed by surgery, it would create a “a night and day difference”.
The tests – Cancer Seek, is now being tested with patients who are yet to be diagnosed with cancer.
The usefulness of the test would be put to real test at this stage.
Scientists are hopeful that this blood test would act as a form of complimentary test for other screening tests like colonoscopies for colorectal cancer and mammograms for breast cancer.
“We envision a blood test we could use once a year,” Dr Tomasetti said.
Since both the mutated DNA and the proteins are sought out by the Cancer Seek test makes it unique.
The test can be used for a larger range of cancers by simply enhancing the number of mutations and proteins that are analysed by the test.
“This is of massive potential. I’m enormously excited. This is the Holy Grail – a blood test to diagnose cancer without all the other procedures like scans or colonoscopy,” said Dr Gert Attard, team leader in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.
He said “we’re very close” to using blood tests to screen for cancer as “we have the technology”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)