A New Blood Test May Be Able to Detect Early Stage Cancer

Groundbreaking new research could change the way we diagnose cancer forever.

laboratory assistant analyzing a blood samplescience photo/Shutterstock

Imagine walking into a doctor’s office for a simple blood test—and catching an early sign of cancer that saves your life. That might become a reality soon, thanks to new research published in the journal Science.

While this may sound like something straight out of a sci-fi novel, it’s actually true. Nickolas Papadopoulos and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a new test that can screen and identify the earliest stages of cancer. (For more good news, check out all of the most groundbreaking cancer research of 2017.)

For their study, the researchers received blood samples from 1,005 patients diagnosed with cancers of the lung, breast, colon, pancreas, liver, stomach, ovary, or esophagus. Another 812 participants had not been diagnosed with cancer. All of the blood samples received the experimental test, called CancerSEEK.

The blood test found signs of cancer in about 70 percent of the participants, according to the researchers. It was also successful at detecting earliest stage 1 cancers about 40 percent of the time. Meanwhile, the test incorrectly diagnosed just seven (or less than 1 percent) of healthy participants with cancer.

Granted, the test missed cancer almost 60 percent of the time. And in some cases, the test failed to locate which part of the body was affected by the disease. Still, “we still think this is a very important milestone in detecting cancers in asymptomatic people,” Papadopoulos told NPR. “That could save their life.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Unfortunately, the test hasn’t been approved for sale yet. But in the meantime, you can lower your own risk with these 30 simple ways to prevent cancer.

[Source: NPR]

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.