Researchers from John Hopkins University and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have developed a blood test called CancerSEEK which can detect the presence of up to eight common cancers. The test, known as a liquid biopsy, detects minute amounts of mutated DNA and abnormal proteins that are released into the blood stream by cancer cells (even very small tumours). It has the ability to detect cancer in an average of 70% of patients with non-metastatic cases, with a false-positive result being less than 1%.
Researchers have shown that the routine blood test can reliably detect early stage and curable cases of ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, oesophageal, bowel, lung, or breast cancer. Not only is the test extremely sensitive (being able to detect 1 mutated fragment of DNA among 10,000 normal fragments), but it can also look for characteristic patterns in those mutations that would indicate which type of cancer was present. This not only means earlier diagnosis is possible, but also that further investigation pathways are more focussed and less invasive for the patient.
Large scale trials are currently underway in the US with the study results expected to be available in the next three to five years.
Read more about the test HERE.