For the first time, a blood test has been shown to help detect many types of cancer in a study of thousands of people with no history or symptoms of the disease.
The test is still experimental. Even its fans say it needs to be improved and that Tuesday’s results are not ideal. Yet they show what benefits and drawbacks might come from using these gene-based tests, called liquid biopsies, in routine care — in this case, with PET scans to confirm or rule out suspected tumors.
“We think that it’s feasible,” said Nickolas Papadopoulos, a Johns Hopkins University scientist who helped develop the test. Using it along with standard screening methods “doubled the cancers that were detected” in the study, he said.
But the test also missed many more cancers than it found and raised some false alarms that led to unnecessary followup procedures. It was only studied in women 65 to 75 years old and needs to be tried in men, other ages and more diverse groups.
“This is not at the place where it could be used today,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “It will need many more studies to demonstrate value,” including whether it improves survival, he said.
Story source: WSAZ.
Image credit: CNN via WSAZ.