Blood Test Claims to Find Cancer 4 Years Earlier than Current Methods

By John Commins

Researchers from China and the United States say they’ve developed a noninvasive blood test that can find five common cancers in people four years before the disease can be diagnosed with existing methods.

The blood test, Called PanSeer, detected cancer in 91% of people who had been asymptomatic when the samples were collected and were diagnosed with cancer one to four years later.

The test, which detects stomach, esophageal, colorectal, lung and liver cancer, also found cancer in 88% of samples from 113 patients who were already diagnosed when the samples were collected, and recognized cancer-free samples 95% of the time, according to the study, which was published this week in Nature Communications.

“The ultimate goal would be performing blood tests like this routinely during annual health checkups,” said study corresponding author Kun Zhang, a professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California San Diego.

“But the immediate focus is to test people at higher risk, based on family history, age or other known risk factors,” he said.

Zhang said the study is unique because researchers could access blood samples from patients who were asymptomatic and undiagnosed. This allowed the researchers to develop a test that can find cancer markers much earlier than conventional diagnosis methods.

The samples were collected under a 10-year longitudinal study begun in 2007 by Fudan University in China.

The study is a collaboration between UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, Fudan University and Singlera Genomics, a San Diego- and Shanghai-based startup.

The researchers said the PanSeer test can’t predict which patients will later develop cancer, and is better suited to identifying patients who already have cancerous growths but who remain asymptomatic under existing detection methods.

The researchers said more and larger longitudinal studies are needed to confirm their findings.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.