New blood test detects cancer
Cancer is easier and more promising to treat if it is detected early. A major goal of cancer research is therefore to find new and better ways to find early-stage tumors before they metastasize. Promising here is a new diagnostic method in which cancer is detected using biomarkers in the blood.
Researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are currently developing an approach in which tumors can be detected by analyzing body fluids. These tests aim to find cancer anywhere in the body. All that is needed is a blood sample that is analyzed for certain biomarkers. The research results were recently presented in the renowned top journal “Cell”.
Tumors leave traces in the blood
Tumors release tiny particles that get into the bloodstream. So-called EVPs (extracellular vesicles and particles) can be found using modern diagnostic methods. Such biomarkers allow conclusions to be drawn about the type and location of the tumor.
The Holy Grail of Cancer Diagnosis
“One of the holy grails in cancer medicine is to diagnose early-stage cancer in a patient using a blood test,” reports surgeon William Jarnagin from the study team. This research paves the way to such a form of diagnosis. However, more research is needed before this screening tool can be used.
So far, the detection of previously undiagnosed cancer using blood samples is still experimental. Soon, however, she should be able to diagnose cancer before it causes symptoms. The advantage of EVP analysis is that it can be used to characterize different types of cells. This also allows the area around a tumor to be recognized.
Machine learning in cancer diagnosis
The study analyzed blood and tissue samples from people known to have cancer. A total of 18 different types of cancer were considered, including breast, colon and lung cancer. Samples from people who do not have cancer served as a control group.
The samples were evaluated in a computer-aided approach. Certain EVPs were compared with certain types of cancer. “The amount of information that can be extracted from this type of study is monumental,” emphasizes Dr. Jarnagin. This research is unthinkable without a high-performance computer.
Good recognition rate
The team reports that 95 percent of the time the computer was able to correctly diagnose cancer from the blood sample. In ten percent of the cases, however, the computer gave a false positive cancer diagnosis. “If this test became the standard, we would still have to do CT and MRI scans to confirm where the tumor is,” adds Dr. Jarnagin.
The blood test can be used to find out who has an increased risk of certain types of cancer. In addition, the blood test is likely to be useful for monitoring the success of cancer treatments. In the next step, the team wants to test the method on people who have no diagnosed cancer but have an increased cancer risk, for example due to an increased incidence of cancer in the family.
The future of cancer diagnosis
Dr. Jarnagin predicts that examinations of body fluids will play a central role in the diagnosis of cancer in the future. In this way, types of cancer could also be recognized for which there is currently no established screening method, such as liver and pancreatic cancer. “These cancers are rarely detected early, and treating them as soon as possible could lead to better patient outcomes,” the researchers sum up. (vb)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Study Focuses on a Different Kind of Liquid Biopsy to Detect Cancer (veröffentlicht: 13.08.2020), mskcc.org
- Ayuko Hoshino, Han Sang Kim, Linda Bojmar, u.a.: Extracellular Vesicle and Particle Biomarkers Define Multiple Human Cancers; in: Cell, 2020, cell.com
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.