Blood test could diagnose cancer

Cancer can be hard to diagnose, but researchers from the University of Bradford in the U.K. say they are developing a simple blood test that could provide early detection of cancer.

The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test, as it’s being called, analyzes the damage of white blood cells when exposed to various intensities of ultraviolet light. This tests the extent of DNA damage. Since the immune system is suppressed while fighting cancer, researchers say white blood cells from cancer patients are more easily damaged by ultraviolet light compared to noncancer patients. The researchers say they can distinguish between cancer, precancerous, and healthy cells through the LGS test.

For the study, 208 individuals provided blood samples that were coded, randomly ordered, and anonymous and these samples were subjected to ultraviolet light. When pieces of DNA gravitated toward the positive end of an electric field, forming a longer chain, it meant the DNA was more damaged. These results properly matched the 58 patients diagnosed with cancer, the 56 with a precancerous condition and 94 with no conditions.

A clinical trial is underway to test the effectiveness of the LGS test in colorectal cancer patients. In the future this blood test could replace more invasive cancer screening procedures. It could also help diagnose cancers that are hard to detect early, such as melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer.

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