A blood test for 10 different types of cancers could one day help doctors screen for the disease before patients show symptoms, researchers at the world’s largest gathering of oncologists have said. The test, called a liquid biopsy, screens for cancer by detecting tiny bits of DNA released by cancer cells into blood. The test had particularly good results for ovarian and pancreatic cancers, though the number of cancers detected was small. Researchers hope the test will become part of a “universal screening” tool that doctors can use to detect cancer in patients.
“This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure,” said Dr Eric Klein, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. “We hope this test could save many lives.” The study, by a research team that also included scientists from Stanford University, was presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago.