Scientists have been working for a long time to develop testing methods that will detect cancer earlier and with less invasive tests. A team of researchers from John Hopkins University is now testing a new method of detecting the disease that is much faster and easier than other methods available. The new test is meant to be something that people will have performed annually to catch cancer early on and make outcomes of fighting the disease better.
Experts on the disease are calling the new test “enormously exciting.” More research is needed to ensure that the test is effective, but early work shows promise. The blood test works by looking for tiny traces of mutated DNA that tumors release into the bloodstream. The test, called CancerSEEK, is able to look for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer patients and for eight proteins that are often released in cancer patients.
The test has been trialed on 1,005 patients with cancers in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colon, lung or breast that hasn’t metastasized to other parts of the body. The test was able to find 70% of the cancers in the test population. The significance of this easy test is that the earlier cancers are found, the easier and more effective treatments are.
Currently, five of the eight cancers that the test has shown promise in detection have no early screening programs in place. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, has so few symptoms that four in five people diagnosed with it die the first year of diagnosis.
Currently, the CanerSEEK test is being tested in patients not diagnosed with cancer. Doctors hope that the test can be used along with other test methods like mammograms and colonoscopies. The test costs less than $500 per patient putting it on par with the cost of a colonoscopy.