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Fun Science FRIEDay – A blood test for cancer

Cancer is a tricky disease. It comes in many varieties and can pop-up anywhere in the body seemingly at random. The somewhat cryptic nature of this disease can make diagnosis difficult; this can be frustrating because most cancers are treatable if diagnosed early. Thats what makes this most recent breakthrough all the more exciting; a method to detect cancer through a single blood test!

The blood test is called CancerSEEK and its speculated that it would cost less than 500 USD, which is comparable to or lower than other screening tests. CancerSEEK, is a single blood test that was shown to detect 8 types of common cancer (ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, and breast) and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Photo credit: fotoquique – Getty Images

Currently there exist blood-styled tests for cancer: complete blood count, blood protein testing, tumor marker tests, and circulating tumor cell tests. However, with the exception of detecting blood cancers, these tests cannot identify whether you have cancer or a noncancerous ailment. This is where CancerSEEK distinguishes itself from other blood tests. The approach used in CancerSEEK combined assessing levels of circulating proteins in the blood and mutations in cell-free DNA to detect signs of cancer. This approach allowed for specific diagnosis of the 8 types of cancer mentioned previously.

More work is needed to refine this method and approach, but CancerSEEK lays the conceptual and practical foundation for the early detection and diagnosis of cancers through noninvasive blood screening. This approach has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnosis and subsequently increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

You can read more about this study published in the journal Science.

Happy FSF!

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