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New blood test can detect over 50 types of cancer

This scientific breakthrough could identify tumours, even without symptoms

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Anna Johnstone
Anna JohnstoneHead of Social
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In a study, a new blood test managed to detect over 50 different types of cancer on thousands of participants, as well as accurately locating their position in the body. The results of this study were published in Annals of Oncology, and may prove crucial in the early detection of cancer, which has "a huge potential to save lives".

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This new blood test could detect early tumours

The study, developed by GRAIL, Inc., of Menlo Park, California, collected samples from 6,689 participants representing more than 50 cancer types, including breast, bladder, ovarian, lung, lymphoid leukemia, and pancreatic cancer.

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"Our results show that this approach to testing cell-free DNA in blood can detect a broad range of cancer types at virtually any stage of the disease, with specificity and sensitivity approaching the level needed for population-level screening," Prof Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, and co-lead author of the study observed. "The test can be an important part of clinical trials for early cancer detection."

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More research will be needed to develop the test

The results were accurate to 99.3%, meaning that only 0.7% of the results incorrectly indicated that cancer was present. When cancer was detected, the blood test identified the organ or tissue where it originated in over 90% of cases, providing crucial information for diagnosing and treating the disease.

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Cancer Research UK early detection head Dr David Crosby is also optimistic about the results, saying: "Detecting cancers at their earliest stages, when they are less aggressive and more treatable, has a huge potential to save lives and we sorely need tech innovations that can turn this potential into reality. Although this test is still at an early stage of development, the initial results are encouraging."

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