Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

New Liquid Biopsy Detects Cancer at Earlier Stages Than Currently Possible

Trials on 1,400 patients reportedly found the procedure to identify DNA markers worked with up to 90% accuracy Trials on 1,400 patients reportedly found the procedure to identify DNA markers worked with up to 90% accuracy
Melissa Porter | 03 June, 2018, 17:14

Now, researchers at the world's largest gathering said a new technique of blood test could let doctors screen for cancers before patients show any kind of symptom.

"We need to work out why these blood tests failed to spot lung cancer in around half of cancer patients with early stage disease, whether it's effective in people without symptoms, and ultimately whether it can save lives".

Gerhardt Attard, of the John Black Charitable Foundation Endowed Chair in Urological Cancer Research at University College London, told CNN that if research continues at this rate, he believes it could become a common part of cancer diagnosis in as little as five to 10 years.

The "holy grail" of cancer tests could pave the way for a universal screening programme that could save ten of thousands of lives each year.

Talking to Chris Hollins on the talkRADIO breakfast show, Dr Dawn Harper from Embarrassing Bodies, said: "When we develop cancer it's because of a mutation in the cells, so what this blood test is doing is looking for that change".

The findings were presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

The test was administered on 749 cancer-free patients and 878 with newly diagnosed but untreated cancer.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said the test could "dramatically transform" cancer care.

"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", lead researcher Dr. Eric Klein of the Cleveland Clinic said, via Tech Times.

The best results were for ovarian and pancreatic cancer, diagnosing 90 and 80 per cent of people with these diseases.

The cancer sites that were examined in the study did not include brain, but the study does suggest that scientific progress has been made across many different types of cancers and there is the potential to include this test as part of a routine medical screening. When these two types of cancers are detected in the early stages, the mortality rate is significantly lower.

However, it's important to note that the number of people in which these cancers were detected was small.

Head and neck cancer as well as lung cancer were detected with the least accuracy, at 56% and 59%, respectively. It detected 51 percent of early-stage cancers and 89 percent of late-stage cancers.

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said in a previous CNN report that the analysis involved in these tests is "extraordinarily complex".