Cancer, irrespective of its types, could be detected by a
simple blood test, say British scientists. According to them, the new blood
test will allow doctors to rule out cancer in patients presenting with certain
symptoms - saving time and avoiding costly and unnecessary invasive procedures
Researchers of the University of Bradford say that early results have shown the simple test can detect cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer with a high degree of accuracy.
Alternatively, it could be a useful aid for people who are suspected of having a cancer that is currently difficult to diagnose, add the researchers.
The study shows a clear distinction between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and the white blood cells from healthy patients.
"White blood cells are part of the body's natural defence system. We are aware that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases. So I wondered whether anything assessable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light. We found that people with cancer have DNA that is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people," said Diana Anderson, professor from the University's School of Life Sciences and the lead researcher.
The conclusions were made after looking at the blood samples of 208 people.
In this, 94 were healthy members of university staff and students and the remaining 114 were collected from patients referred to specialist clinics within Bradford Royal Infirmary prior to diagnosis and treatment.
UVA damage was noticed in the form of pieces of DNA being pulled in an electric field towards the positive end of the field, causing a comet-like tail.
The longer the tail, the more DNA harm. And these measurements compared to those patients who were ultimately diagnosed with cancer (58), those with pre-cancerous conditions (56) and those who were healthy (94).
"These are early results finished on three different types of cancer and we agree that more research needs to be conducted; but these results so far are outstanding," Diana Anderson added.
She noted that while the numbers tested were small, the 'results are powerful'.
The test's accuracy is now being evaluated in a clinical trial at Bradford Royal Infirmary with patients suspected to have colorectal cancer.
A patent has been filed for the technology and Oncascan Limited has been established to commercialize the research.
The research is published online in FASEB Journal, the U.S. Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.