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Detecting 50 types of cancer using a blood test is no longer a utopia. The results of a test carried out on 5400 patients showed an accuracy of this early screening of 75%.

Cancer is easier to treat if diagnosed early. It is therefore necessary to improve all screening methods in order to detect tumors at an earlier stage.

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Researchers at the University of Oxford (Great Britain) are thus working on a “liquid biopsy”, in other words a blood test, which would make it possible to detect around fifty types of cancer. “DNA from cancer cells (called ctDNA) can be detected in the blood at early stages of the tumor. We can take advantage of this by developing technologies that detect ctDNA and thus detect cancers earlier than existing pathways” they explain.

A test conducted on 5400 patients

For their study, dubbed Symplify, the researchers recruited 5461 patients, aged 18 and over, in England and Wales come for urgent imaging or endoscopy or to check for symptoms suspicious of possible cancer. Participants provided a blood sample, from which DNA was isolated and tested. blood test, designed to screen for around fifty types of cancer (including rare cancers), has identified signs of tumors in the bodies of 323 patients.

244 of them subsequently received a positive diagnosis of cancer, which indicates a screening accuracy of around 75%. The test also correctly identified the original site of the cancer in 85% of these cases. “The most frequent diagnoses of cancer were colorectal (37.2%), pulmonary (22.0%), uterine (8.2%), esogastric (6.0%) and ovarian (3.8%)” specify the researchers.

“The positive predictive value and accuracy of the detected cancer signal for all cancer types indicates that a positive blood test could be used to confirm which symptomatic patients should be prioritized for cancer evaluation before pursuing further investigations.”

However, further work is still needed, on a larger cohort of patients, before developing this test for the general public.

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