Cancer consistently remains one of the major leading causes of death worldwide. However, early detection can significantly increase the chances of finding an effective treatment. The problem with this is that these screening tests can be a long and evasive process, with doctors mainly being able to detect side effects that may not necessarily be derived from the presence of cancer. Thus, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s new research claiming that a single blood test may identify cancerous proteins at earlier stages is scientifically monumental as well as life-saving.
This test, known as CancerSEEK, was examined on 1,005 patients with different stages of cancers in various locations. As people develop cancerous tumors, they release mutated proteins and DNA into the bloodstream. The test claims to be able to identify cancer through 16 specific markers that can detect the mutations in the bloodstream. This screen is more cost-effective and non-invasive than anything available due to its limitation of the proteins that it can recognize. CancerSEEK hopes that this evaluation will help to minimize time and money spent during follow-up appointments and reevaluations that try to determine whether or not symptoms are actually cancerous.
“This has the potential to substantially impact patients. Earlier detection provides many ways to improve outcomes for patients,” writes Associate Professor of Medicine Surgery and Radiology at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Anne Marie Lennon, Ph.D. “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.”
CancerSEEK targets up to eight different types of cancers including lung, breast and colorectal cancer. They also created a process that can identify five cancers that currently do not have any screening tests— ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal. Not only does the test have the potential to detect the cancer, but its machine-learning applications can also determine the exact anatomical region where the tumor is located.
While these new findings are extremely promising, there is still much more research to be done before CancerSEEK is implemented for practical medical use. The project hopes to offer a safe, effective and inexpensive screening for cancer that can be accessible to medical professionals all over the world. However in the meantime, be sure to take all established precautions and consult with a doctor if you may be at risk for cancer.