Cancer blood test shows mixed results
Clinical screening is an imprecise art: tests should identify disease without alarming the healthy
The lifeblood coursing through your veins may one day become a messenger of death. Scientists have revealed that they have taken baby steps towards developing a blood test for cancer. Liquid biopsy looks for traces of mutated DNA and rogue proteins shed by tumours. For all the claims, it is not a universal test for this feared emperor of maladies. And, while earlier detection would be a boon to some, it could become a burden for those whose modest abnormalities are not life-threatening. The new tool, being developed at Johns Hopkins University, is called CancerSEEK. The test looks for traces of 16 genes and eight proteins associated with eight types of cancer. The checklist included ovarian, liver, stomach and pancreatic cancers. All tend to be diagnosed late and have low survival rates. Blood samples were taken from 1,000 cancer patients whose tumours had not spread.CancerSEEK flagged about 70% as showing evidence of the disease (a sensitivity of 70%). This means that 30% of cases ...