A Single Blood Test Could One Day Identify 10 Types of Cancer

August 05, 2020 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

When combined with positron-emission and computed tomography (PET-CT), a multicancer blood test identified 10 different tumor types in a sample of women with no history of cancer, researchers reported in Science.

In a feasibility study, the researchers evaluated a blood test that detects DNA mutations and protein biomarkers in 10,006 women aged 65–75 years with no previous cancer diagnosis. If the blood test was positive, the findings were confirmed with PET-CT imaging. During the 12-month study period, the women developed 96 cancers, 26 that were detected by the study intervention and 24 by conventional recommended screening.

Although the blood test found several breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, which already have regular approved and recommended screening tests, it also found cancers such as ovarian, kidney, and lymphoma, which currently lack standardized screening. Those cancers are often diagnosed at metastatic stages after symptoms develop, but the ones found in the blood test study were all early stage.

Additional studies are needed, and the researchers said that the test would not replace standardized screening recommendations for breast, lung, and colorectal cancer. “Any blood test needs to complement and add to standard-of-care screening, because standard-of-care screening works,” they said.


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