Earlier detection test for 8 types of cancer

Detecting cancer at an early curable stage is one of the best hopes for a cure. Unfortunately, most patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed with advanced disease. Only about 20% of patients have surgically resectable disease at diagnosis. Significant effort has therefore gone into developing new approaches to the early detection of cancer. Great examples include screening colonoscopy which saves lives.

Members of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center contributed to a study published in the journal Science describing a new blood test for the earlier detection of cancer. Published advance on line on January 18th 2018,

the study describes how a blood test for a combination of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and cancer protein markers can be used to detect ten major types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. An exciting advance!

The strength of this approach includes a high specificity(almost everyone who didn’t have cancer tested negative). The sensitivity of the test, however, was lower, meaning that it detects some, but not all cancers.
Follow-up studies are ongoing to determine if the test works in patients before they have symptoms of cancer.
Ultimately, the challenge will be to show that the test saves lives and that it can be instituted to the general population in a cost effective manner.
A strong step in the right direction!

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