Researchers have developed a blood test capable of identifying eight common cancers long before they spread to the rest of the body.
Known as CancerSEEK, the test can detect breast, lung, colorectal, oesophagus, pancreatic, stomach, liver and ovarian cancers.
The ‘liquid biopsy’ identifies early-stage tumours from proteins and genetic variations in the blood system.
Trials have revealed a high degree of accuracy. It can reveal early-stage cancers in about 70percent of cases, and up to 98percent for some types of cancer.
It offers particular hope in pancreatic cancer, which can go undetected for 20 to 30 years.
Another feature is it is non invasive and can, potentially, be administered by primary care givers at the time of other routine blood testing.
And the researchers say the likely price of a test at $630 is relatively affordable compared with other cancer detecting examinations.
The CancerSEEK study, published in the journal Science, was developed by an international team headed by John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Three scientists from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) also worked on the project.
Professor Peter Gibbs, of WEHI, told the Nine Network it offered a big impact for health screening in Australia, potentially “capturing the major cancer killers in our society”.
He explained it crucially enables doctors to bring the diagnosis of cancer forward, offering patients a cure.
He told The Australian it could become commercially available within a couple of years.
“Someone’s going to start offering this sort of testing even before the results are in.”