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Blood test can detect, classify cancer in the body

The test correctly detected cancer in 96 percent of patients, who had been previously diagnosed with one of six types of cancer.

By Stephen Feller
Blood test can detect, classify cancer in the body
Using a test for changes to RNA in blood platelets, researchers in anew study detected the presence of cancer in the body and where it is located. Photo by Steve Collender/Shutterstock

UMEA, Sweden, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Researchers in Sweden developed a blood test that accurately detects cancer 96 percent of the time and classifies the type of cancer correctly 71 percent of the time, according to a new study.

Differences in cancer, which can be found based on its molecular makeup, can also be detected with the test and used to help doctors determine the best course of treatment, researchers said.

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Blood tests are increasingly being used to diagnose the severity of cancer, such as one test underused with pancreatic cancer patients.

Researchers have been working on blood tests for cancer for several years, including a test developed at the University of Bradford in England that was shown in a small study to accurately detect melanoma, lung cancer, and colon cancer. The test measures damage to DNA in white blood cells using varying intensities of ultraviolet light.

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The test researchers at the University of Umea developed is based on changes to RNA in blood platelets caused by tumors in the body.

"Being able to detect cancer at an early stage is vital," said Jonas Nilsson, a researcher at Umea University, in a press release. "We have studied how a whole new blood-based method of biopsy can be used to detect cancer, which in the future renders an invasive cell tissue sample unnecessary in diagnosing lung cancer, for instance. In the study, nearly all forms of cancer were identified, which proves that blood-based biopsies have an immense potential to improve early detection of cancer."

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Researchers sequenced RNA from 283 patient samples, correctly detecting cancer, or not, in 228 patients who'd been diagnosed with localized and metastized tumors and 55 healthy people 96 percent of the time.

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The blood test also correctly indicated the location of the primary tumor in patients, identifying lung, breast, pancreas, brain, liver, and colorectal cancer 71 percent of the time.

Of the participants with cancer, 39 had been diagnosed as an "early detection" of cancer, which the test identified correctly 100 percent of the time.

The study is published in Cancer Cell.

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