Detecting cancer at an early stage is vital as it enables early treatment. The high quality, automated hematology analyzers available today allow laboratories to provide timely and accurate test results to help in quick cancer diagnosis. Commonly used blood tests for cancer include complete blood count (CBC) and blood protein tests and tumor marker tests.
More and more cancer blood tests are being developed in an effort to find an accurate and easy method of detecting the disease and to negate the need for invasive biopsies. Let’s take a look at some recent developments in the field.
Blood-based RNA test
Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden have developed a RNA test of blood platelets that can pinpoint cancer with 96 percent accuracy from a single drop of blood. The test could identify cancer in the lung, breast, pancreas, brain, liver, colon and rectum with 71 percent accuracy. The team says that, when refined, this test will make invasive cell tissue sample and other cancer cell detection systems unnecessary in the future.
STHLM3 test for prostate cancer
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have come up a new blood test called STHLM3 test for prostate cancer, which they claim is better than the conventional prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The PSA test does not provide reliable results which can lead to unnecessary biopsies and even lead men to be treated for harmless forms of cancer. The STHLM3 test, developed in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, combines PSA measurement with the analysis of some 200 genetic markers as well as clinical data such as age, family history and previous prostate biopsies.
Serum Sample Analysis to detect early-stage ovarian cancer
Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new, improved method of detecting ovarian cancer from a serum sample. Blood samples were obtained from women with stage one and stage two ovarian cancer. Using centrifugation, the blood cells were separated to detect differences between women with and without the early-stage cancer. The serum samples were analyzed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS), two laboratory instruments combined to better separate samples into their individual components. The test was able to detect metabolites that have been previously implicated in ovarian cancer. Their work produced 16 molecules that together differentiated cancer patients with accuracy greater than 90 per cent.
Most of these blood tests show promising results and the greatest advantage, in addition to accurate results, is that they save patients from unnecessary suffering and save resources for society. However, the scientists say that results will have to be further validated before they can be used in practice.