A new study published in the January 2018 issue of the journal, Science, introduces the experimental blood test, CancerSEEK. The researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland, shared that this new blood test is able to detect 8 common cancers: esophageal, bowel, ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, lung, and breast cancers. This exciting breakthrough promises to save millions of lives.
The researchers explain that CancerSEEK is a liquid biopsy that is less invasive than a standard biopsy, in which a needle is placed into a solid tumor to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Instead, CancerSEEK is able to detect minute mutated DNA cells that are shed in the blood by dying cells and protein biomarkers of certain cancers.
Healthcare providers, such as those at any primary medical care center or urgent care clinic, will soon be able to screen more of their patients early and refer them to treatment before their cancer metastasizes or even before they become symptomatic. Even though the test is still several years away from actual use, the hope is that this simple life-saving screening will become a part of routine blood tests such as cholesterol and glucose checks.
The study screened over 1,000 patients already diagnosed with cancer and 815 people with no known cancer diagnosis. The test was able to detect cancer in patients already diagnosed with 70% accuracy. In the group with no known cancer diagnosis, the test was 99% accurate. The test was also able to locate where the cancerous tumors were in 83% of the cases. One of the researchers in the study, Anne-Marie Lennon, M.D., Ph.D., shared her excitement about this one-stop, minimally invasive cancer test, “This has the potential to substantially impact patients. Earlier detection provides many ways to improve outcomes for patients.” CancerSEEK is proposed to cost approximately $500, which would be quite affordable to most patients with health insurance.