A team of researchers has announced that they have developed a non-invasive test capable of detecting the presence of eight common cancers.
Called CancerSEEK, this test detects small amounts of DNA and proteins released into the blood by cancer cells. It can detect the presence of cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, intestine, lung or breast in their early stages.
When it comes to cancer, early diagnosis remains the key to avoiding the potentially devastating impact of many treatments, particularly to reduce the number of deaths. The earlier the disease is detected, the greater the chances of survival for patients.
One of the most innovative elements of this work is the use of a combination of markers — genetic as well as protein – – to broaden the spectrum of detection.
For the study, CancerSEEK was used on 1,005 patients with cancers diagnosed without metastases. Eight types of cancers have been targeted: ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophageal, intestinal, lung or breast cancers. The CancerSEEK test averaged 70% positive diagnoses, ranging from 33% for breast cancer to 98% for ovarian cancer.
But one of the most convincing results is the possibility of detecting certain cancers in very early advanced stages. For example, the test obtains 100% detection of stage 1 liver cancer, but only 20% at this stage for stomach cancer. The test also made it possible to locate the area where the tumor is located for 83% of the patients.
Several cancers can be examined at the same time, and the test can also be used for routine hematological tests, such as a cholesterol check.
There is still some way to go before making these tests publicly available, but the authors of the study are confident, believing that with time it will be possible to design a single blood test at a cost of less than $500, a cost comparable to that of a unique cancer detection test such as a colonoscopy.