Early detection of cancer can improve chances of successful treatment and survival. US researchers have come up with a DNA test that can identify 18 types of early-stage cancers covering all major human organs accurately, reported The Guardian. Early-stage cancers are difficult to detect. Lab tests for blood, urine, and other body fluids may not be a full-proof way to detect cancer and have to be followed with biopsies and imaging. This multi-screening test for early cancer detection can prove to be a gamechanger, easing cancer treatment and ensuring higher survival rates among cancer patients. (Also read: New research provides efficient approach to early diagnosis of cancer)
The new DNA test can analyse proteins in the blood and can help detect 18 different kinds of early-stage cancers across main organs in the human body. Genetic testing, also known as DNA testing, is used to identify changes in DNA sequence or chromosome structure. While blood proteins have been used earlier, the accuracy and specificity of the test outperforms previous ones says the team from the US biotech firm Novelna that has been working on it.
“This finding is the foundation for a multi-cancer screening test for the early detection of 18 solid tumours that cover all major human organs of origin for such cancers at the earliest stage of their development with high accuracy,” the research team told journal BMJ Oncology.
“This could re-shape screening guidelines, making this plasma test a standard part of routine check-ups. These findings pave the way for a cost-effective, highly accurate, multi-cancer screening test that can be implemented on a population-wide scale,” they added.
The team took blood plasma samples from 440 people that were diagnosed with 18 different types of cancer and from 44 healthy blood donors. The researchers could identify the proteins that signalled early-stage cancers accurately.
“At stage I (the earliest cancer stage) and at the specificity of 99%, our panels were able to identify 93% of cancers among males and 84% of cancers among females,” they said.
“Our sex-specific localisation panels consisted of 150 proteins and were able to identify the tissue of origin of most cancers in more than 80% of cases,” the researchers added.
The test is significant in a way that it can help diagnose pre-cancerous and early-stage cancer before a tumour could do significant damage.
The research team, however, said due to the smaller size of samples, more studies were needed to establish effectiveness of the test.