Grail blood test shows promise in early detection of lung cancer

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A new blood test which scientists say is able to detect certain types of cancer several years before a person falls ill has been hailed as a breakthrough.

"Most cancers are detected at a late stage, but this "liquid biopsy" gives us the opportunity to find them months or years before someone would develop symptoms and be diagnosed".

Professor Nicholas Turner, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, described the findings as ‘really exciting' and said that they could potentially be used for ‘universal screening'. Although the test is able to detect up to 10 different types of cancer, it was most accurate at noting the presence ovarian cancer, hepatobiliary, which affects the liver and gallbladder and pancreatic cancer, CNN reported.

The authors, led by Cleveland Clinic in OH, will present their findings at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, and hope the test could be available within five to 10 years for healthy people who are cancer-free.

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The "comprehensive" test identified 90 percent of ovarian cancers and 80 percent of pancreatic and liver cancers.

The test works by detecting traces of cancer cells' DNA that is released into the bloodstream.

The liquid biopsy is not yet ready for the clinic, according to the researchers, but its development marks a significant advance in the fight against cancer, says Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England who was not involved in the study.

The results to be presented at the U.S. medical conference are for more than 1,400 people, of whom 561 were cancer-free, with no diagnosis, while 845 had been newly diagnosed with the disease.

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The test was slightly less accurate at finding lymphoma and myeloma, at 77% and 73% respectively, and bowel cancer in two out of three patients.

The test will use blood samples to search for cancer.

In a study of more than 1,400 people, the triple test achieved up to 90 per cent accuracy. As for cancers of the head and neck, or lung cancer, the detection rate was only 56% and 59%.

Grail's lung cancer data comes from a wider study that eventually aims to enroll 15,000 participants and cover 20 different types of cancers. According to The Telegraph, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) could start using the blood test within the next five years, but some state that figure is overly ambitious. It detected 51 percent of early-stage cancers and 89 percent of late-stage cancers.

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