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New blood test could detect more than 50 types of cancer

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Cancer blood test Researchers believe the new test could be invaluable in early diagnosis

Researchers are ‘hopeful that blood-based cancer detection will be a reality’ in the wake of a recent study.

A blood test for cancer is successful in detecting more than 50 types of cancer, according to research published in the Annals of Oncology. The test accurately found cancer in over 99% of cases, when tested on over 4000 participants.

Professor Geoff Oxnard, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and one of the lead researchers, said, ‘This blood test seems to have all the features needed to be used on a population scale, as a multi-cancer screening test’. However, he also noted that further clinical trials are needed to ‘fully understand’ the test performance before it is used in normal practice. It has now been launched for use in clinical trials.

The test detects methylated cell-free DNA that are released by tumours and, in over 96% of cases, can predict the tissue of origin, when cancer is detected. It was noted that the test was more accurate in more advanced stages of cancer, ranging from 39% sensitivity to cancer type in stage I cancer, to 93% in stage IV.

‘If the test can be fine-tuned to be more efficient at catching cancers in their earliest stages, it could become a tool for early detection,’ commented Dr David Crosby, Cancer Research UK early detection head. But he noted that more research is needed to improve detection in early stages of cancer.

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