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The earlier doctors can detect if a patient has cancer, the greater the chances are that treatment will be successful. However, if the patient does not have any apparent cancer symptoms, the condition might be diagnosed too late.
Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK have developed a new method where a standard blood test can show if a patient has cancer. The test also indicates whether cancer has spread through the body.
The researchers selected 300 patients with vague symptoms, such as fatigue and weight loss, and had them take the test. Following this, they performed traditional cancer tests on the patients and compared them with the blood test results.
It turned out that the new blood test identified 19 out of 20 patients who had cancer. The test was also correct in 94 percent of cases where cancer had spread in the body.
There are other available blood tests to detect cancer, but this test uses a new method and detects so-called NMR metabolomics.
"Cancer cells have unique 'metabolomic fingerprints' depending on the cells' metabolic processes. In a press release, it is only now that we are beginning to understand how metabolites produced by tumors can act as biomarkers to detect cancer", says James Larkin at the University of Oxford and one of the researchers behind the test.
Another advantage of this particular test is that it is cheap and could be used in cases where it's difficult to judge whether a patient has cancer or not. The test is also able to detect different types of cancer. The ambition now is to produce a cancer test that all GPs can easily order.