A Blood Test That Detects Cancer Years Ahead of Symptoms ‘Could Save Thousands of Lives’

By: | July 7th, 2017

Blood test [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cancer is a very deadly disease and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Although there are some treatments available for cancer, most of them are effective only if the cancer is detected in an early stage. Moreover, these treatments are associated with lots of side-effects.

In a big breakthrough, researchers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a San Francisco-based genomics company Grail are developing a procedure to detect cancer in its early stages.

This non-invasive cancer technique could revolutionize treatment for this deadly disease by helping in discovering cancer with a simple blood test before actual symptoms appear.

All cells in our body tend to discharge information into the bloodstream through secretion or as they die. In the same way, cancer tumors also release this information, known as circulating tumor DNA.

This cancer test involves scanning the blood for traces of DNA shed by tumors or circulating tumor DNA. This test is referred to as a liquid biopsy.

As per lead researcher Pedram Razavi, “Our findings show that high-intensity circulating tumor DNA sequencing is possible and may provide invaluable information for clinical decision-making, potentially without any need for tumor tissue samples.”

Razavi added, “Our combined analysis of cell-free DNA and white blood cell DNA allows for identification of tumor DNA with much higher sensitivity, and deep sequencing also helps us find those rare tumor DNA fragments.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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