A Single Test Could Diagnose 8 Cancers

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When it comes to cancer, the diagnosis becomes even a more challenging and complex process. However, with the discovery of this new blood test, which has proved itself to be the quickest diagnostic technique in the history of cancer. It is known as CancerSEEK, a single blood test that has the potential to diagnose 8 different types of the cancer at same time.

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In a new study, the scientists revealed that how a single blood test could be this sensitive as well as specific to detect 8 cancers at the same time. The study included more than 1000 people with the disease which have been diagnosed successfully.

The team from the Johns Hopkin University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD recently published their results in the Journal “Science”.

It is a known fact regarding cancer that it is the most common cause of death in the whole world. According to an estimate, the number of deaths by cancer will have risen to 13 million from 8 million, by 2030.

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Well, the early diagnosis is definitely a key to reduce the deaths caused by cancer. The early a cancer is diagnoses, more will be the chances to treat the monster and throw it out. But sadly, most of the cancers are not caught in early stages and thus give their results. It is largely due to the lack of fast and quick diagnostic tools to detect cancer in its early stages.

However, the John Hopkins researchers have brought a little hope to the doomed hearts. They believe that CancerSEEK could bring us close to early diagnosis of not one but 8 different types of cancer.

A Test that is Highly Sensitive as well as Specific :

When cancerous tumors form in the human body, they release small fragments of mutated DNA and proteins into the bloodstream, which can act as markers for cancer. This means they can be a help for diagnosis.

This new blood test works by detecting 16 gene mutations and 8 proteins that are associated with 8 different types of cancer. These eight types include: breast, lung, colorectal, ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancer, for which there are even no current screening tests for the people at average risks of cancer.

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“A novelty of our classification method is that it combines the probability of observing various DNA mutations together with the levels of several proteins in order to make the final call,” explains study co-author Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., an associate professor of oncology and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.

The study included 1005 individuals who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic forms of one of the above-mentioned cancers to test the specificity of CancerSEEK.

They found that this single test was able to identify the respective cancers in 70% of the individuals successfully, with sensitivity ranging from 33% for breast cancer and 98% for ovarian cancer. The sensitivity ranged from 69% to 98% for five types of cancer for which there are no routine screening tests available yet, the researchers reported.

And in terms of specificity, the test produced an overall result of more than 99 percent. They also performed the test on 812 healthy adults, it only produced seven false-positive results.

As study co-author Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D. — co-director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics at Johns Hopkins notes, “Very high specificity was essential because false-positive results can subject patients to unnecessary invasive follow-up tests and procedures to confirm the presence of cancer.”

Moreover, the researchers found that CancerSEEK was able to determine the location of tumors for 83 percent of the patients.

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