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Cancer blood test – A new screening method


Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have taken a step towards one of the biggest goals in medicine – a universal blood test for cancer.
A team at the University has trialled a method that detects eight common forms of the disease. However, one said more work was needed to assess the test’s effectiveness at detecting early-stage cancers.
Tumours release tiny traces of their mutated DNA and proteins they make into the bloodstream. The test looks for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer and eight proteins that are often released.
It was trialled on 1,005 patients with cancers in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colon, lung or breast that had not yet spread to other tissues. Five of the eight cancers investigated have no screening programmes for early detection.
The earlier a cancer is found, the greater the chance of being able to treat it. This could have an enormous impact on cancer mortality rates.
It is now being trialled in people who have not been diagnosed with cancer, which will be the real test of its usefulness.
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BBC News Health

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