A team of doctors from the John Hopkins Medicine Centre lead by Romanian doctor Victor Velculescu have developed a blood test through which cancer is detected before symptoms appear.
The test discovered cancers in the first stage in a proportion of 60% and cancers in the second stage in a proportion of over 90%. There has been no false positive diagnosis in any of the healthy patients that were examined.
The blood test has detected the majority of types of cancers that affect people, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer. The test is not yet finished, however, the study already shows the steps to be followed in the test. The professor said that there is a lot of debate around liquid biopsies, however, the majority of tests were done in advanced stages of cancer. The result shows that there is a surprisingly high proportion of people that have incipient forms which change in the blood.
The test consists in decomposing of DNA sequences in order to discover incipient mutations produced by cancerous cells. It is estimated that detecting cancers in the first and second stage would save one million lives a year.
Velculescu, however, said that the test needs to be improved because it missed a large percentage of cancers. As well, the test needs to be tried on patients with different cancer and also large groups of patients.
National cancer institute