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A New Blood Test Could Detect Eight Cancers Far Earlier Than Possible Today

Hopeful news today, as researchers think they could be onto a new method of blood testing that could detect eight kinds of cancers before symptoms appear. Researchers from several institutions, including many from Johns Hopkins Medical Center, hope that their new CancerSEEK test could help to identify lung, breast, colon, pancreas, liver, stomach, ovary, and esophagus cancers at the earliest possible stages, making it far easier to treat them before they become life-threatening.

Early testing of the new method has yielded promising results! Their initial study, recently published in Science, used 1,005 people who had been diagnosed with one of those eight cancers and 812 people who had not been diagnosed with cancer. Of the first group, the blood test correctly detected cancer 70 percent of the time, while less than 1 percent of the second group received a false positive — a positive test for cancer when they actually didn’t have one.

That’s a good start for a couple reasons. While 70 percent is far from 100 percent, if the test can indeed detect cancer before symptoms appear 70 percent of the time, that’s still a ton of people who stand to benefit from the test. On the other hand, it’s very promising that there were so few misdiagnoses, which could be costly and cause a great deal of undue stress to patients.

But, there are still a few more hurdles to get past for the research community and the medical industry alike, and how they’re dealt with will determine just how many people can actually benefit from this test.

Next page: What are those challenges?

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