Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Grail blood test shows promise in early detection of lung cancer

Grail blood test shows promise in early detection of lung cancer

A new universal screening test may be able to do just that by using blood samples to detect up to 10 different types of cancer months or even years before the patient has any visible symptoms.

Dr Jodie Moffat, Cancer Research UK's head of early diagnosis, said: "It's exciting to think that one day we could offer people a blood test to find lung cancer earlier, meaning they could benefit from treatments which give them a better chance of beating the disease".

Nicholas Turner from London's Institute of Cancer Research said, via The Guardian.

"What we're generally seeing is a strong blood-based biological signal for cancers that have a high mortality and are typically not screened for", Dr. Anne-Renee Hartman, vice president of clinical development at Grail, said in a telephone interview.

In addition, the study included patients who had already been diagnosed with cancer, so more studies are needed to investigate whether the test can detect cancer in its earliest stages, before people are typically diagnosed with the disease. Klein and his fellow researchers plan on presenting their findings to the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Among four cancer-free people who tested positive, the United States authors say two women were diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer just months later.

The blood test looks for fragments of DNA that have been released into the blood by quickly developing cancer cells.


Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said such advances in medicine could "dramatically transform" the tools doctors use to screen cancer. Of them, 878 people had been newly diagnosed with a disease, and 749 people were cancer-free without any diagnosis.

While the test isn't 100 percent accurate and still needs more work, the lead researcher has hailed it as "potentially the holy grail of cancer research".

The test detected 90 per cent of ovarian, 80 per cent of pancreatic and two thirds of bowel cancer cases (66 per cent), according to the research.

It was less able to pick up stomach, uterine and early-stage low-grade prostate cancer.

‘The goal is to develop a blood test, such as this one, that can accurately identify cancers in their earliest stages.

'This approach is promising as a multi-cancer screening test, ' they concluded.

"In stage I disease, surgical interventions are most likely to remove all a patient's cancer and result in a cure - this data is no yet available", Abbosh said.

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