A researcher at the Imperial College London has developed a groundbreaking blood test that has the potential of changing the way cancer is diagnosed altogether.
Researchers are saying that the new test involves an extremely simple procedure that might eventually be performed at a GP’s surgery. According to them, due to its ability to offer a quick diagnosis (just within a few days) and increase the probability of early treatment, this new procedure might help in saving several lives each year.
The study leading to this amazing finding was conducted at the NHLI or National Heart and Lung Institute, a division of the Royal Brompton Hospital and the Imperial College London. During the study, researchers performed blood tests of 223 patients before they underwent surgery for suspected or known lung cancer.
Members of the research team weren’t informed whether or not the patients had a definitive diagnosis before the study began. However, it was found that they succeeded in using the new blood test for correctly identifying cancer-inducing gene mutations in DNAs of around 7 out of every 10 patients.
Later, conventional pathological methods revealed each of the individuals who, according to the results of the new blood test was carrying cancer-related gene mutations, actually had the disease.
These findings show that with this innovative blood test, a large number of patients can evade the experience of going through an invasive procedure such as biopsy for cancer diagnosis and thereby get their cancer detected more promptly.
Biopsies usually involve collection of tissue samples during CT scans, through bronchoscopies (a process during which pathologists insert a thin and flexible fiber-optic tube into the patient’s lungs via his/her mouth or nose) or during surgical procedures.
Although right now biopsy is regarded as the best process for cancer diagnosis, it comes with some disadvantages. For instance, the process is quite expensive and has longer waiting times. According to researchers at the NHLI, the new blood test would require the NHS to spend much less money and has the potential of being noninvasive, but accurate method for cancer diagnosis.
For this study, researchers focused only on individuals with primary or secondary lung cancer. It was found that patients belonging to both groups possess similar gene patterns as individuals suffering from other cancer types like colorectal cancer. This indicates that this new blood test might also be useful for diagnosing other cancers.