Researchers say they have taken a step toward developing a blood test that would detect eight common cancers, possibly even before symptoms appear.
As they report Thursday in the journal Science, they’re hoping their idea would eventually lead to a $500 test that can screen for cancer and identify people with the disease when it’s in its earliest stages and more treatable.
But they have a long way to go.
There have been many attempts over the decades to develop blood tests to screen for cancers. Some look for proteins in the blood that appear with cancer. Others more recently have focused on DNA from tumors. But these methods alone don’t give reliable results.
So Nickolas Papadopoulos, a professor of oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, collaborated with many colleagues at the medical school to develop a new approach. It combines two methods into one test.
Their experimental test, dubbed CancerSEEK, focuses on eight major cancers: lung, breast, colon, pancreas, liver, stomach, ovary and esophagus.
“We selected those eight cancers based on how frequent they are, also [because] a lot of them do not have any screening modality right now,” Papadopoulos says.