Can Cancer Be Detected and Located by a Blood Test?

(January 25, 2018) CancerSEEK is a blood test designed to detect cancer by analyzing levels of proteins and mutations in cell-free DNA. The goal of this particular blood test is to assist in early detection, and therefore decrease cancer related deaths, for ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, and/or breast cancers.

The results of a large trial using CancerSEEK were recently published in the prestigious journal Science. The trial included 1,000 patients who had previously been diagnosed with one of the eight above cancer types. The test correctly identified most cancers; the median for positive test results was 70% and, for the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus cancers, the sensitivity was anywhere from 69% to 98%. Additionally, the test was able to narrow down the number of places where the cancer was located, with a median of eighty three percent. When CancerSEEK was used on a control group of individuals without cancer, it produced only 7 false positives (out of 812 tested).

OCRFA’s Scientific Advisory Committee Chair, Jeff Boyd, PhD, commended that this is, “a very exciting proof-of-concept study using a novel technology,” but that considerably more research would need to be done before this test could be validated for use in the general population.

Posted on in Research