Blood test offers hope of detecting cancers before symptoms develop

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A new blood test shows promise for detecting many types of cancer, even in the early stages of the disease, according to a new study.

"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", says Dr. Eric Klein of Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute.

Among four cancer-free people who tested positive, the United States authors say two women were diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer just months later.

The test-a noninvasive blood draw followed by DNA screening-could lead to dramatic changes in cancer treatment, say researchers.

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The authors, led by Cleveland Clinic in OH, will present their findings at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, and hope the test could be available within five to 10 years for healthy people who are cancer-free. Among four cancer-free people who tested positive, two women were diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer months later.

The test worked best for ovarian cancer, correctly detecting this cancer in 90 percent of patients who had it.

He said: ‘As the NHS marks its 70th anniversary, we stand on the cusp of a new era of personalised medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases.

'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, ' said Dr Eric Klein, lead author of the research from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

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At the heart of the research is the hope that the test could become a "universal screening" that could be used to detect cancer in patients.

Ovarian cancer patient Jane Howarth, 54, from Manchester, has been taking niraparib for nine months. They'd also need more test subjects, as the sample sizes were on the small side for a study of this type. When these two types of cancers are detected in the early stages, the mortality rate is significantly lower. It detected head and neck cancer in 56% of patients, lung cancer in 59% of patients, and bowel cancer in 2 out of 3 patients.

On average, cancer rates in the United Kingdom have increased by seven per cent in the last decade, however, in women, the number of diagnoses have risen by a whopping nine per cent in the last ten years.

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".

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