New blood test can detect eight types of cancer

A sexual health check isn’t just for when you have symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection

While there is still a great deal of uncertainty, this is the first step in a long journey - and the first step is always the hardest.

How accurate was the test? One of the blood tests includes identifying proteins in blood that contain cancer.

With the exception of detecting blood cancers, however, those tests "generally can't absolutely tell whether you have cancer or some other noncancerous condition", according to Mayo Clinic's website.

CancerSEEK is able to look at comparatively few markers because it is a screening test that aims to detect the presence of cancer, rather than the specific driver mutations of a cancer, or actionable therapeutic targets.

Researchers say they hope it will be available for less than $500 (around €408) following further studies. They chose to sequence parts of just 16 genes often mutated in different types of cancer.

"The big question is going to be the cost", Gibbs said.

The experimental blood test, which researchers have dubbed CancerSEEK, pinpoints the following cancers: lung, breast, colon, pancreas, liver, stomach, ovary and esophagus.

The Johns Hopkins researchers and collaborators found that gains in the detection rate tailed off when they added more genes to their test. And false positives are a concern for tests that are meant to be administered to large populations of healthy individuals - an incorrect result can cause people undue stress and lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments.

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"We were agreeably shocked that we could identify the measure of tumors that we could distinguish", Papadopoulos said.

Most cancers are detected by a cell biopsy, where a sample of the cancerous tissue is examined under a microscope.

The study had some limitations, including that the patients in the study already had been diagnosed with cancer, mostly based on symptoms.

The specialist team of medics hailed the new test as a potential game changer in the way doctors screened for various forms of the killer disease. "Optimally, cancers would be detected early enough that they could be cured by surgery alone, but even cancers that are not curable by surgery alone will respond better to systemic therapies when there is less advanced disease". "In fact, keeping the mutation panel small is essential to minimize false-positive results and keep such screening tests affordable".

Those forms of the disease represent more than 60% of cancer deaths in the USA, they said. The sensitivity for the earliest stage cancers (Stage I) was highest for liver cancer (100%) and lowest for esophageal cancer (20%).

Papadopoulos said that although 40 percent success would be far from ideal, they still think that it is an important milestone detecting cancers in asymptomatic people.

Lung and breast cancers were the fourth and 13th most common causes of death in Australia in 2016, Australia Bureau of Statistics figures show. They point out that this molecular test is exclusively aimed at cancer screening and, therefore, is different from other molecular tests, which rely on analyzing large numbers of cancer-driving genes to identify therapeutically actionable targets.

The scientists from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland, say the research lays the foundation for a single blood test for cancers of many types.

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