The researchers estimate that the cost of this single blood test for eight cancer types may be less than $500, which is comparable to or lower than current screening tests for single cancer types.
In terms of specificity, the test yielded an overall result of more than 99 percent.
The hope is it can complement other screening tools such as mammograms for breast cancer and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer. “This is a first step, but it’s an important one”.
Along with cancer detection, the blood test accurately predicted what type of cancer it was in 83% of cases.
How accurate was the test?
Also this week, Taiwan-based CellMax Life gave results on its liquid biopsy test, which looks for whole tumour cells shed into blood, at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.
The new test measures circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) from 16 genes as well as 8 protein biomarkers, and then uses machine-based learning to analyse the data.
Specifically, the researchers evaluated levels of eight proteins and the presence of mutations in 2,001 genomic positions to detect signs of cancer. “This is the paper that’s going to set the field in motion”. These include breast, lung, and colorectal cancer, as well as five cancers – ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, and esophageal – for which there are now no routine screening tests for people at average risk. They also looked at 812 people without cancer diagnoses.
Compared to other cancer tests, “we developed a test that surveys comparatively a much, much smaller portion of the genome”, Cohen said, an approach that has two advantages: “It minimizes false positives, and makes the test affordable”. The new result could put the team, led by Nickolas Papadopoulos, Bert Vogelstein, and others at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, among the front-runners.
The specialist team of medics hailed the new test as a potential game changer in the way doctors screened for various forms of the killer disease. Some seemingly healthy people could harbour inflammatory diseases that alter the levels of the proteins targeted by the test, she says. However, this can prove hard as a lot of the tests that are now in use may not be sufficiently accurate, or the symptoms may only be detected at a late stage.
According to latest breakthrough in research, a blood test to detect eight common cancers, even before their symptoms begin to appear, may become a reality soon.
“The sensitivity for the stage 1 cancers in the study was only 40 per cent”. “This may mean that a screening program has to test a very large number of individuals to detect one cancer”.
The blood tests found about 70 per cent of eight common types of cancer in the 1,005 patients.
“I know a lot of people will say this sensitivity is not good enough, but for the five tumor types that now have no test, going from zero chances of detection to what we did is a very good beginning”, Papadopoulos noted. “There is a long way to go before we can actually do this”.