One-Stop Blood Test for Cancer Shows Early Promise



In an early step toward “one-stop” screening for cancer, researchers report they’ve developed a blood test that can detect eight types of the disease.

The blood test is dubbed CancerSEEK. It was able to catch cancer cases anywhere from 33 percent to 98 percent of the time, depending on the type. The accuracy range was better — 69 percent to 98 percent — when it came to five cancers that currently have no widely used screening test, the scientists reported in a new study.

Those cancers included ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, liver and esophageal cancers.

The researchers said the findings are an “exciting” initial step.

The hope is to eventually have a single blood test that can screen people for a range of common cancers.

“This is a proof-of-concept,” said Dr. Anne Marie Lennon, one of the researchers on the work. “Will this eventually impact patients’ care? I think it will. This is a first step, but it’s an important one.”

In recent years, researchers have been studying “liquid biopsies” — tests that look for cancer markers in the blood or other body fluids. Those markers can include, for instance, mutated genes or abnormal proteins shed from tumors.

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SOURCES: Anne Marie Lennon, M.D., Ph.D., director, multidisciplinary pancreatic cyst program, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore; Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Jan. 19, 2018, Science

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