According to a research team based in China, a recent study shows that a blood test can identify cancer up to four years before a person experiences the symptoms. This team specifically states that PanSeer, a non-invasive blood test, has detected cancer in 95% of people who have no signs of disease but have later received a cancer diagnosis.
In the journal Nature Communications, the team wrote:
“We demonstrated that five types of cancer can be detected through a DNA methylation-based blood test up to four years before conventional diagnosis.”
The team revealed that the test is not effective enough to predict cancer, but it can detect cancerous growths that have yet to cause symptoms or been located by other methods. The researchers are thrilled that they have found a way to show that cancer can be identified before a patient begins experiencing its symptoms.
According to the Guardian, the test was the result of screening certain regions of DNA located in blood plasma for telltale tags, known as methyl groups, which are usually crop upped up in tumor DNA.
The team used methods that allowed them to identify “even very small levels of such DNA.”
After developing the test using artificial intelligence, known as machine learning algorithms,
The team tested 414 samples on participants who have been cancer-free for a minimum of five years after the blood was taken, and 191 samples on participants diagnosed with several types of cancer (liver, lung, stomach, etc.) within four years of the DNA being collected.
The non-invasive blood test results have detected cancer in more than 85% of participants who were previously diagnosed and 95% in those who were not previously diagnosed with the disease but had later on developed it. The test was able to accurately spot the participants without cancer 96% of the time.
Samantha Harrison, a senior early diagnosis manager at Cancer Research UK, says:
“The PanSeer test has achieved encouraging initial results. Promisingly, the test may be able to detect cancer in blood samples taken years before diagnosis. But these are early results that now need to be validated in larger studies.”
Dr. Eric Klein, of Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute, was the team member who discovered that a liquid biopsy could identify multiple types of cancer at an early stage and identify which organ would be affected. He now welcomes the team’s new research.
“This is an exciting study which provides further confirmation that methylation-based assays can detect cell-free circulating tumor DNA and may form the basis for new screening tests that detect cancer at early stages. There is a need for such tests to screen for cancers for which there are currently are no effective screening paradigms.”