A new study published Thursday in the Science journal described a new non-invasive blood test that can identify signs of eight types of cancer before any symptoms show up.
The test, called CancerSEEK, can even help doctors discern the location of cancer in a patient's body. This is the first non-invasive blood test that can screen for multiple cancers simultaneously, checking for cancer of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colon, lung and breast.
According to the researchers, these cancers cause more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the US. Five of the cancers - ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers - do not have screening tests available yet.
"The goal is to look for as many cancer types as possible in one test and to identify cancer as early as possible," said Nickolas Papadopoulos, lead researcher and professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
"We know from the data that when you find cancer early, it is easier to kill it by surgery or chemotherapy," Papadopoulos added.
CancerSEEK, which is the culmination of 30 years of research, uses two signs to determine whether a person might have cancer.
It searches for 16 giveaway genetic mutations in pieces of tumor-associated DNA that are released by cancerous cells and can accumulate in the bloodstream.
However, these free-floating bits of DNA are deposited in the blood in only tiny amounts, making them tricky to detect and to work with.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team