‘Liquid Biopsy’ Detects Cancer Years Before Symptoms

The Summary

A Chinese led research team say a blood test – called PanSeer – detects cancer in 95% of asymptomatic individuals who later receive a diagnosis. “We demonstrated that five types of cancer can be detected through a DNA methylation-based blood test up to four years before conventional diagnosis,” the team writes in the journal Nature Communications. This was exciting because few studies have shown it before.

They emphasize the test does not predict cancer but rather picks up on cancerous growths that had not yet caused symptoms or been spotted by other methods. The test is based on screening methylated groups of DNA found in blood plasma that often crop up in tumour DNA. Such tests, now the focus of research, have become known as liquid biopsies as they offer non-invasive patient screening.

Visual Information from the manufacturer of PanSeer

The easy read

From The Guardian: Researchers say blood test can detect cancer years before symptoms

The research article

Chen, X., Gole, J., Gore, A. et al. Non-invasive early detection of cancer four years before conventional diagnosis using a blood test. Nat Commun 11, 3475 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17316-z

Top picture from and recommended further reading:

Wan, J., Massie, C., Garcia-Corbacho, J. et al. Liquid biopsies come of age: towards implementation of circulating tumour DNA. Nat Rev Cancer 17, 223–238 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc.2017.7

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