Believe it or not, detecting cancers in very early stages is one rarest blessing in medicine. The good this early discovery can do alone is legion; ranging from helping the patient plan a lifestyle modification to early excision, to a host of psychosocial benefits, and others. But despite the numerous benefits of this, catching cancer early in the first place is a tricky one. This is because some cancers do not display typical symptoms or show no symptoms at all, Hence, it may be too late to treat cancer meaningfully when it is finally discovered.
Could a novel blood test help us catch cancer early enough?
The scientists at Oxford University made an outstanding discovery: a test as basic as a blood test can detect cancer and possible metastasis. Documented in the University of Oxford Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, is this novel blood test that identifies a spectrum of malignancies and possible spread to distant tissues or other contiguous structures.
This new concept is rooted in research conducted on 300 persons from Oxfordshire Suspected CANcer [SCAN]who displayed non-specific symptoms of malignancies such as weakness and loss of weight. The research aimed to access if the test could tell those who had solid cancers from those who didn’t. The results were truly remarkable. It identified cancers accurately 19 times out of 20. additionally, it picked out metastases with an accuracy of 94%. One of the top researchers, Dr. James Larkin, from the University of Oxford, explained that it was the metabolomic fingerprints that enabled the scientists to identify cancer and monitor cancer activity. Metabolomic metabolites are produced by malignant cells, they serve as biomarkers that help to identify cancer. Not only is this metabolite of prime import in detecting cancer, but it also can aid in monitoring the progress of other diseases like multiple sclerosis.
And it gets better! Research claims that this novel test identifies cancer even before it can pop up on our conventional imaging. This test could finally give humankind the upper hand over cancer. Also, it transcends the common limitations of acquiring good health care like financial constraints.
In the light of this discovery, NHS set up multiple centers nationwide to facilitate faster and very early diagnosis of cancer in those with non-specific symptoms.
According to Dr. Fay Probert, one of the lead researchers of the study from the University of Oxford, “The goal is to produce a test for cancer that any GP can request. We envisage that metabolomic analysis of the blood will allow accurate, timely, and cost-effective triaging of patients with suspected cancer, and could allow better prioritization of patients based on the additional early information this test provides on their disease.”
This test shows promise to help clinicians detect cancer and assess cancer stages in the future. This novel test uses high magnetic fields and radio waves to detect quantities of different metabolites in the blood, this is in contrast to other types of blood tests that only look for different genetic materials from cancer. That gives it the superior ability to detect malignancies early.
Expectedly, when this technology is finalized it will help improve the life span and quality of life with cancer.
The importance of catching cancer early cannot be overemphasized. In past times, it was truly challenging to pick out silent symptoms or identify that some common non-specific symptoms were pointing to cancer. It was quite a problem, but this test could make cancer more predictable.
No doubt, this discovery will help deal with the scourge of cancer and make the world a safer place!