A Single Blood Test Could Diagnose 8 different Types of Cancer

By Tammy Adams via Multibriefs

Cancer is such a mysterious disease. For many different types of cancer, diagnosis can be a long and challenging process. A new blood test, however, might offer a much-needed simpler and more effective diagnostic technique.

Called CancerSEEK, this new blood test has the potential to identify eight cancer types using just one blood sample. In the study, researchers show how the test shows high levels of sensitivity and specificity for cancer detection in more than 1,000 participants with the disease.

The research team, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, recently published its results in the journal Science.

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that by 2030, the number of cancer deaths will have risen from 8 million to 13 million, according to the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

These eye-opening statistics spotlight the well-known fact that early diagnosis is key to reducing cancer-related deaths. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the higher the chances of treatment success. But unfortunately, many cancers are not caught until the later stages, and this is largely due to a lack of fast and effective diagnostic tools.

Back to the new test. The Johns Hopkins researchers believe that CancerSEEK could bring us closer to a quick, simple way to detect cancer in its early stages.

How Does CancerSEEK Work?

When cancerous tumors form inside the body, they release small fragments of mutated DNA and proteins into the person’s bloodstream. These fragments can act as markers for cancer.

CancerSEEK works by identifying the markers for 16 gene mutations and 8 proteins that are associated with 8 different types of cancer. These include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Esophageal cancer

For the study, the John Hopkins researchers tested CancerSEEK on 1,005 individuals who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic forms of one of the 8 cancers mentioned above.

The test was able to identify 70 percent of the cancers, with sensitivity ranging from 33 percent for breast cancer to 98 percent for ovarian cancer. Sensitivity ranged from 69 percent to 98 percent for the remaining cancers.

The researchers state that larger studies are needed to further determine the efficacy of CancerSEEK as a routine screening test for cancer, and those studies are in the pipeline. However, the team believes that the results of its current research are encouraging.

Always a lover of words well written, Tammy Adams is an experienced and award-winning copywriter/editor making a difference in the healthcare marketing, public relations and communications industries for more than 20 years. She has a BA in English from Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!). Equal parts creative and technical, she is a seasoned and diverse medical writer who knows how to execute like a journalist, think like a marketer and write like a storyteller.


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