(Yahoo) – A simple blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease is accurate enough to be rolled out as a multi-cancer screening test, according to scientists. The test, which is also being piloted by NHS England, is aimed at people at higher risk of the disease, including patients aged 50 years or older.
It is able to identify many types of cancer that are difficult to diagnose early, such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal, and some blood cancers. Scientists said their findings, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, show the test accurately detects cancer, often before any signs or symptoms, while having a very low false-positive rate.
Dr. Eric Klein, chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, US, and first author on the paper, said: “Finding cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful, is one of the most significant opportunities we have to reduce the burden of cancer.
“These data suggest that, if used alongside existing screening tests, the multi-cancer detection test could have a profound impact on how cancer is detected and, ultimately, on public health.” The test, developed by US-based company Grail, looks for chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumors into the bloodstream. READ MORE