Blood test to 'detect cancer years before illness' hailed as major breakthrough

Trials on 1,400 patients reportedly found the procedure to identify DNA markers worked with up to 90% accuracy

Scientists are "one step closer" to being able to detect lung cancer early using just a blood test, experts have said.

"Detecting cancer early, before it has spread is one of the most powerful ways to ensure more people are offered treatments which give them a better chance of beating the disease", said Fiona Osgun of Cancer Research UK, who was not part of the study.

"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure", said Dr. Eric Klein, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute. Although the test is able to detect up to 10 different types of cancer, it was most accurate at noting the presence ovarian cancer, hepatobiliary, which affects the liver and gallbladder and pancreatic cancer, CNN reported.

The study, led by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, will be presented June 4 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

The tests, called liquid biopsies, screen for cancer by detecting tiny bits of DNA released by cancer cells into blood.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the test has the potential to "unlock enormous survival gains" across the NHS. Of them, 878 people had been newly diagnosed with a disease, and 749 people were cancer-free without any diagnosis.

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The test detected 90 per cent of ovarian, 80 per cent of pancreatic and two thirds of bowel cancer cases (66 per cent), according to the research.

That study was carried out in a trial comprising of more than 1,600 people. They have identified a new kind of blood test that can determine the presence of 10 different cancers long before tumors even occur. As for cancers of the head and neck, or lung cancer, the detection rate was only 56% and 59%.

"In stage I disease, surgical interventions are most likely to remove all a patient's cancer and result in a cure - this data is no yet available", Abbosh said. It detected 51 percent of early-stage cancers and 89 percent of late-stage cancers.

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said in a previous CNN report that the analysis involved in these tests is "extraordinarily complex".

While the blood test is still in the early phases of development, and still required more work, researchers were positive about the results.