Researchers from the University of California created a miraculous blood test which can identify cancer. The test is not only accurate enough to detect the disease, but it can also pinpoint to the location of the tumor. CancerLocator works by analyzing the amount of tumor DNA present in a person’s blood.
A blood test to detect cancer
The idea of using blood tests to detect cancer is not a novel one. However, the researchers say that their test is highly accurate and can be accessed by a wide variety of people. It showed an 80 percent success rate in detecting liver, lung, or breast cancer. Some types of cancer are more easy to diagnose using the blood test. Professor Jasmine Zhou, one of the authors of the research, explained why.
“In general, the higher the fraction of tumor DNAs in blood, the more accurate the program was at producing a diagnostic result. Therefore, tumors in well-circulated organs, such as the liver or lungs are easier to diagnose early using this approach, than in less-circulated organs such as the breast.”
They published their research in the journal Genome Biology. Basically, what they do is use computer software to analyze the blood of a patient. The program needs only one blood sample and it can detect if the patient has cancer or not. It can even identify the organ affected by the tumor. They are only at the beginning, and their technology needs more refining. However, the potential of the test is huge.
Teaching software to recognize cancer
First of all, the researchers taught the program to identify a blood sample free of disease. Then, they showed it a vast database of tumor markers and taught it how to recognize different types of tumor DNA that could be hiding in blood.
This is of a crucial importance, as the technique can be accurately used to detect early stages of cancer. It can spot tumors before they show overt symptoms on the patient. Thus, the patient has a higher chance of survival and of beating the disease.
There were rumors that the blood test would be available for the public in around a year. Unfortunately, health experts are skeptical about this prediction. To prove that it is 100 percent accurate, the technology would require years of testing and hundreds of thousands of people to take part of experiments.
It might be a long way until we can use the blood test, but scientists have taken many steps forward in the fight with this terrible disease.
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