Simple blood test could help detect cancer
Scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a blood test that they say could help detect various cancers.
The new test works by searching the bloodstream for DNA from cancer tumors. Previous research has shown that tumor DNA is a biomarker for cancer, but methods for detecting it have been expensive, time-consuming and unavailable to many patients.
In the first part of the study, the researchers tested blood from patients with lung cancer and found that the test was able to identify approximately 50 percent of patients with stage 1 lung cancer and 100 percent of patients with stage 2 or higher. In the second half of the study, researchers aimed to identify the specific DNA sequences that might indicate cancer. They identified certain sets of DNA mutations that were shared among patients, despite the type of cancer they had, and were successful in identifying 139 genes that are mutated in lung cancer.
Researchers said that their blood test—which they are calling CAPP-Seq (Cancer Personalized Profiling by deep Sequencing)—would be able to identify a wide range of cancers, be customized for individual patients and possibly be used in clinics. The findings, published in Nature Medicine, suggest that, with further research, the blood test may one day be used to screen for cancer in healthy and at-risk populations, as well as to follow progress of tumors in those who have already been diagnosed with cancer.