• studyInvestigates_Banner

Simple blood test offers major step in early detection of eight common cancers

March 4th, 2018

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland USA recently developed a single non-invasive blood test called CancerSEEK. This innovative test is able to screen for eight common types of cancer, including breast cancer.

As they circulate throughout the body, cancer cells leave small pieces of DNA in the bloodstream which contain tell-tale genetic changes (mutations). CancerSEEK works by screening the blood for these mutations and a range of proteins which are often found at high levels in the blood of cancer patients.

The study, led by head of oncology and pathology Dr Nickolas Papadopoulos, tested 1,005 patients with cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colorectal, lung or breast. Results showed the ability to detect cancer ranged from 98% for ovarian cancer to 33% for breast cancer.

Sarah Jane Dawson
Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson

NBCF-funded researcher Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson (pictured) from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria said “whilst the approach requires validation in large studies of individuals without a cancer diagnosis” the CancerSEEK project “represents an important step forward in the development of a blood test for early cancer detection.”

A/Prof Dawson is currently developing a blood test or ‘liquid biopsy’ that will allow doctors to track the progress of breast cancer without the need for invasive tissue sampling.

“We are currently exploring the role of these tests to monitor women after they have completed treatment for breast cancer” said A/Prof Dawson.

She said this “has the potential to identify which patients are at risk from the cancer returning, and detect relapse early”.

A/Prof Dawson hopes that a simple blood test, like the one she is developing, could one day help bring peace of mind to those at high risk that their breast cancer has not returned.