Science is a step closer to a one-stop early-detection cancer screening.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are developing an innovative blood test that can spot signs of eight different types of cancer before patients begin to have symptoms.
The research, reported in Science, followed 1,005 patients who had any of eight cancers: breast, colon, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, liver or esophageal.
Together, these eight forms of cancer account for more than 60% of cancer deaths in the United States, the authors said.
Making the test — called CancerSEEK — all the more exciting and promising is that there currently are no screening tests for ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers.
The test works by combining tests that look for16 genes and 10 proteins linked to cancer.
“The goal is to look for as many cancer types as possible in one test, and to identify cancer as early as possible,” team leader Nickolas Papadopoulos, a professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins, told the Los Angeles Times.
The ability of the test to trace the disease differed from cancer-to-cancer. It was able to spot cancer cases anywhere from 33% to 98% of the time, depending on the type. The accuracy range improved — 69% to 98% — for ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers.
While researchers are excited about the potential life-saving test, they call this work “a first step.” They caution but more study is needed before the test is ready for routine use.