Scientists move step closer to "medical holy grail" of blood test for eight common cancers

Specialists have warned that more research is needed

Scientists move step closer to "medical holy grail" of blood test for eight common cancers

Image: Hendrik Schmidt/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

The medical holy grail of a blood test for cancer has moved a step closer after a US trial of a new technique detected eight different kinds of tumour.

CancerSEEK was tested on 1,005 patients - whose cancers had already been diagnosed based on their symptoms - at Johns Hopkins University

Ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colorectal, lung and breast cancers were detected with an accuracy of 70%, according to the journal Science.

In eight out of 10 cases it was even able to narrow down the position of the cancer in the body.

The non-invasive test analyses DNA mutations and protein bio-markers.

The report said: "The ultimate goal of CancerSEEK is to detect cancer even earlier, before the disease is symptomatic."

Although encouraging, specialists have said more research needs to be done.

"This looks promising but with several caveats said Mangesh Thorat, deputy director of the Barts Clinical Trials Unit at Queen Mary University of London.

“A significant amount of further research is needed before we can even contemplate how this might play out in screening settings."

"The sensitivity of the test in stage 1 cancer is quite low - about 40% - and even with stage 1 and 2 combined it appears to be around 60 percent.

"So the test will still miss a large proportion of cancers at the stage where we want to diagnose them."