The blood test could detect the eight types of cancer at a point where they are more curable, the researchers claimed in a report by The Associated Press.
The test, known as CancerSEEK, was developed by a team at the Johns Hopkins University, United States, which trialled a method that detected eight common forms of the disease identified as ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, oesophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers.
The test looks for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer and eight proteins that are often released.
It was trialled on 1,005 patients with cancers in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colon, lung or breast that had not yet spread to other tissues.
The report said that even though 70 per cent success was recorded with the new test, it was nowhere near ready for use yet as it needed to be validated in a larger study, which was already underway in a general population, rather than cancer patients, to see if it truly works and helps save lives.
The Johns Hopkins team leader, Nickolas Papadopoulos, said, “We’re very, very excited and see this as a first step. But we don’t want people calling up and asking for the test now because it’s not available.”
Dr. Cristian Tomasetti, also from Johns Hopkins, told the British Broadcasting Corporation, “This field of early detection is critical. I think this can have an enormous impact on cancer mortality. The earlier a cancer is found, the greater the chance of being able to treat it.”
Following the latest discovery, medical experts across the world have said the test offered a great hope for a cancer cure.
Some described the test as novel because it hunts for both the mutated DNA and the proteins.
For instance, Dr. Gert Attard, the team leader at the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom, who is also a consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC, “This is of massive potential. I’m enormously excited. This is the Holy Grail — a blood test to diagnose cancer without all the other procedures like scans or colonoscopy.”
A researcher at the Cancer Research UK, Prof. Richard Marais, also commented on CancerSEEK, “Detecting cancer early, before the disease has spread, is one of the most powerful ways to improve cancer survival and this interesting research is a step towards being able to do this earlier than is currently possible.”
Meanwhile, the cost of CancerSEEK is less than $500 (N180,000) per patient, which is around the same price as a colonoscopy [a procedure that enables a gastroenterologist to evaluate the inside of the colon as part of screening programmes for colon cancer].