Early diagnosis of cancer is a matter of life and death. So scientists struggled to find a blood test that provides one-shot detection for more than 20 types of cancer.
The test detects the slightest modifications in the DNA, caused by the cancer spreading in the organism. The invention has a rate of success of 99.4 percent.
Until now, the test identified three-quarters of patients with stage two cancer and one third with stage one cancer.
The blood samples can dig right into DNA patterns and spot the irregular methylation patterns that signal a possible form of cancer. In over 90 percent of the cases, the source of disease was spotted with no delay. Ovarian and pancreatic types (very difficult to identify) became highly visible on the new ‘radar’.
How The Trial Evolved Into a Major Discovery
Inside the study, the scientists inspected more than 3,500 blood samples, that belonged to over 1,500 patients with cancer and more than 2,000 healthy volunteers.
The samples contained cell-free DNA, that once separated from its parent cell entered the bloodstream. They found more than 20 types of cancer, where 76% of them were associated with high rates of mortality:
- hormone receptor-negative breast cancer
- gall bladder cancer
- gastric cancer
- head and neck cancer
- lung cancer
- lymphoid leukemia
- multiple myeloma
- colorectal cancer
- oesophageal cancer
- ovarian cancer
- pancreatic cancer
During the follow-up, the test proved to be accurate in 32% of the cases for stage one cancer, 76% stage two cancer, 85% percent for stage three, and 93 % stage four.
Study lead author, Dr Geoffrey Oxnard of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, part of Harvard Medical School, stated:
Detecting even a modest percent of common cancers early could translate into many patients who may be able to receive more effective treatment if the test were in wide use.
The astonishing discovery was introduced to the public at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Barcelona, Spain.