Scientists have created a new blood test capable of diagnosing 70 early stage, solid tumour cancers.
The TruCheck Intelli cancer blood test, which is now available in the UK, works by detecting circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood.
Clinical trials of over 40,000 participants have found the test has a sensitivity of 88.2 per cent, which is its ability to detect CTCs in blood samples from cancer cases. The test is 96.8 per cent accurate.
Early identification of tumours is key in the treatment of cancer and increases the chance of remission.
The test involves a simple venous blood draw which is then returned to a laboratory for analysis. Results are available within four weeks.
If the test identifies a positive result for cancer, the patient is referred to an oncologist.
Clinicians use the test to compare cells in the blood to “biomarkers” - a biological signature - for different forms of cancer.
Over 375,000 new cancer cases are detected every year in the UK and there are over 167,000 cancer related deaths, according to Cancer Research UK.
The TruCheck test is capable of identifying over 70 cancers – including breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer.
George Thomas, CEO of the Goodbody Clinic, which is offering the test, said: “Almost half of all cancer cases are currently diagnosed at stage 3 or 4 3 – by being able to diagnose these patients at stage 1 or 2 could have a massive impact on treatment and survival rates.”
Cancer diagnosis generally involves a complex process involving a consultation with a GP and then referral to a specialist for diagnosis, with occasionally lengthy wait times in between. The diagnostic process can also involve biopsy, X-ray and CT scans.
The pandemic had a severe impact on cancer diagnosis as hospitals prioritised the treatment of Covid-19 patients, with Britons facing long wait times for diagnosis following a referral.
Scientists hope that proactive diagnosis could offer treatment that is less aggressive and intrusive than common treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
However, they have warned that blood tests should also be used cautiously and not as a complete substitute for other diagnostic methods.
Susan Bewley, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Women's Health at King's College London, told the Daily Mail that early diagnosis blood tests “prioritise the not-yet-ill over the actually sick”. The tests are not currently available on the NHS and cost £1,119.
The test was developed by Datar Cancer Genetics, a liquid biopsy company based in India.