Single Blood Test Screens for Eight Cancer Types

Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Summary: Researchers developed a single blood test which is non-invasive and screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Circulating tumor DNA mutations can be highly specific markers for cancer. To capitalize on this inherent specificity, researchers sought to develop a small yet robust panel that could detect at least one mutation in the vast majority of cancers. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine developed a single blood test which is called CancerSEEK, is a unique noninvasive, multianalyte test that simultaneously evaluates levels of 8 cancer proteins and the presence of cancer gene mutations from circulating DNA in the blood. The test is aimed at screening for 8 common cancer types that account for more than 60% of cancer deaths in the U.S. Five of the cancers covered by the test currently have no screening test. CancerSEEK can, in principle, be administered by primary care providers at the time of other routine blood work. The research findings were published in the journal Science.

Blood Test Screens for 8 Cancer Types

CancerSEEK is a unique noninvasive, multi-analyte blood test that detects and localizes eight common cancer types. Credit: Elizabeth Cook and Kaitlin Lindsay

The test was evaluated on 1,005 patients with nonmetastatic, stages I to III cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung or breast. The median overall sensitivity, or the ability to find cancer, was 70% and ranged from a high of 98% for ovarian cancer to a low of 33% for breast cancer. For the five cancers that have no screening tests—ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers—sensitivity ranged from 69% to 98 %. Researchers pointed out that this molecular test is solely aimed at cancer screening and is different from other molecular tests, which rely on analyzing large numbers of cancer-driving genes to identify therapeutically actionable targets. The investigators feel that a test that will be used routinely for cancer screening must have a cost in line with or less than other current screening tests. They envision that the CancerSEEK test will eventually cost less than $500.

Assoc. Prof. Anne Marie Lennon said, “This has the potential to substantially impact patients. Earlier detection provides many ways to improve outcomes for patients. Optimally, cancers would be detected early enough that they could be cured by surgery alone, but even cancers that are not curable by surgery alone will respond better to systemic therapies when there is less advanced disease.”

More Information: J.D. Cohen et al, “Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test”, Science (2018). … 1126/science.aar3247

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