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‘Game-changing’ blood test could detect pancreatic cancer early

A “game-changing” new blood test for pancreatic cancer has been unveiled by researchers. 

The new test, formulated by scientists at John Hopkins University in the US, looks for signs of eight common types of cancer including pancreatic cancer. It requires only a blood sample and may prove very inexpensive. 

“The idea is this test would make its way into the public and we could set up screening centres,” says Nickolas Papadopoulos, one of the Johns Hopkins researchers behind the test. “That’s why it has to be cheap and non-invasive.”

The blood test is undergoing further trials with the aim being that people could eventually take it once a year, the researchers say.

Ali Stunt, chief executive and founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action – who is herself is a 10-year survivor of pancreatic cancer – said, “Eight out of 10 patients are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when it has spread to other parts of the body, making the disease incurable, so we desperately need better ways to diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier to give patients the best chance of survival.pancreatic cancer ceo ali stunt

“This blood test is a really exciting development. While a 70% success rate needs to improve, the fact that it can detect some early pancreatic cancers could be game-changing for patients.

“This test will be particularly important for those who are suffering vague symptoms (such as early pancreatic cancer patients) and gives a potential tool for GPs to rule cancer in or out. The caveat is that it now needs to be tested on people without a cancer diagnosis to see if very early disease can be detected and for it to be used as a screening tool in those at high risk of developing cancer.”

Pancreatic cancer test uses non-invasive method

The test, called CancerSEEK, is a unique non-invasive, multi-analyte test that simultaneously evaluates levels of eight cancer proteins and the presence of cancer gene mutations from circulating DNA in the blood. The test is aimed at screening for eight common cancer types that account for more than 60% of cancer deaths. Five of the cancers covered by the test currently have no screening test.

“The use of a combination of selected biomarkers for early detection has the potential to change the way we screen for cancer, and it is based on the same rationale for using combinations of drugs to treat cancers,” says Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D., senior author and professor of oncology and pathology.

The findings were recently published online by Science.

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