Can this blood test detect cancer?

Can this blood test detect cancer?
For decades, doctors and scientists have sought ways to detect cancer with efficiency and accuracy, as soon as possible. Technology has made significant advancements over time and the area of oncology is no exception. Today, genetic blood testing is becoming a more commonly used way to spot early stage cancers and get them treated before it spreads; however, finding cancer this way is often best used with existing tumors. Non-invasive detection of early stage tumors can still be difficult to diagnosis with existing blood tests.

What is Targeted Error Correction Sequencing?

But, a new method of research called Targeted Error Correction Sequencing (TEC-Seq) is making strides to effectively detect cancer at early onset. The approach was created by a team of researchers and their findings were published in Science Transitional Medicine last year. As cancer takes over healthy cells, there are many changes in gene expression, specifically with DNA modification. The technique scans the blood for the DNA fragments that come from cancerous tumors.  The new method was used to look at 58 cancer-related genes. Researchers looked at 200 patients and it helped detect some cancers in stages 1 and 2 including breast, colon, ovarian, and lung cancer approximately 59% to 71% of the time. (1)

This new method could prove especially helpful when it comes to spotting early stage cancers, especially cancers that are difficult to catch when they initially start, such as ovarian cancer. Right now, only 1 in 5 ovarian cancers are caught early, which means that many women don’t find out that they have it until it is advanced. This will decrease the odds of survival.

Learn more about Genomic DNA Testing

Learn more about genomic DNA testing in relation to cancer diagnosis here. While more refining of this liquid biopsy needs to happen in the future to greater improve the detection rate, initial indicators show that the TEC-Seq could help doctors find cancer and diagnose it earlier. This will hopefully translate to healthier, cancer-free patients with higher survival rates.

  1. Phallen, al., “Direct detection of early-stage cancers using circulating tumor DNA.” Science Translational Medicine  16 Aug 2017: Vol. 9, Issue 403, eaan2415
    DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan2415
    Accessed online February 14, 2018

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