This blood test may help detect cancer before symptoms appear

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In a new study, researchers have developed a blood test that could help detect many types of cancer in people with no history or symptoms of the disease.

They found that using it along with standard PET-CT screening methods doubled the cancers that were detected.

The research was conducted by a team at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere.

Many companies are working on liquid biopsies, which look for DNA and other things that tumors shed into blood, to try to find cancer at an early stage.

Until now, these multi-cancer detection tools have been tested on blood samples from people with and without cancer to estimate their accuracy.

The new study was the first real-world test in routine medical care, following patients through surgery or other treatment to see how they fared.

In the study, the team tested nearly 10,000 women 65 to 75 years old with no history of cancer.

Women in this age group have a higher risk for cancer yet are young enough to benefit from finding it early.

They were encouraged to continue regular screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies and were given the blood test, which was repeated if findings suggested cancer.

If the second test also was suspicious, they were given a whole-body PET-CT scan.

The team found that after one year, 96 cancers had been diagnosed. Usual screenings found 24 and the blood test helped find 26 others.

The remaining 46 were found because symptoms appeared or the cancer was discovered in other ways, such as an imaging test for a different reason.

In addition, 1% of participants underwent PET-CT imaging based on false-positive blood tests, and 0.22% underwent a futile invasive diagnostic procedure.

These findings demonstrate that multi-cancer blood testing combined with PET-CT can be safely used in routine clinical care, in some cases leading to surgery with the intent to cure.

The lead author of the study is Ann Marie Lennon from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study is published in Science.

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