Scientists announced on Thursday that they are getting closer to a blood test that will be able to detect 8 common types of cancers, potentially before symptoms even appear.
A report published in the journal Science on Thursday by researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions announced that they have developed a new approach that combines two methods into one test. They are hoping this leads to the ability to screen and identify cancers in people when the disease is in its early stages and more treatable.
The researchers call their new test “CancerSEEK.”
In the report, researchers said that their test could detect eight types of cancer including cancer of the: Ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectal, lung, or breast. A lot of these are rapid moving cancers and every second counts when first finding out if you have cancerous cells.
“We selected those eight cancers based on how frequent they are, also [because] a lot of them do not have any screening modality right now,” says Nickolas Papadopoulos, a professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.
In the report, the researchers wrote that after testing 1,005 individuals who had been diagnosed with one of the 8 types of cancers the test looks for: “CancerSEEK tests were positive in a median of 70% of the eight cancer types.”
The researchers said that “the sensitivities ranged from 69% to 98% for the detection of five cancer types (ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus) for which there are no screening tests available for average-risk individuals.”
Researchers said there were only seven false positives in the test among 812 known healthy individuals in the control group, which equates to less than one percent. That’s a pretty great number.
While this new test is an exciting, promising, and significant leap forward, it needs to be validated in a larger study, rather than on cancer patients. One such study is already underway in the general population.
What is most encouraging and beneficial of the study is the impetus it will give science for focusing on this particular approach for detecting cancer now that verifiable results have occurred. So many lives can be saved with early detection technology like this.