New blood test could detect cancer early

A simple blood test developed by UK scientists could be used to diagnose cancer and assess future risk of getting the disease.

The research, carried out at the University of Bradford, showed that blood testing could be used to both diagnose and assess the potential risk of getting cancer.

Researchers took blood samples from different patients, embedded the cells in agar, then applied ultraviolet light. They then assessed how effectively the DNA damage to cells caused by the ultraviolet light healed. Results showed that slower the recovery of the cells, the greater the chances of cancer.

Blood samples from patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer were all examined, and all gave the same outcomes. This showed the potential of this method to detect some cancers earlier than ever before. This also means that the need for some types of biopsies could be eliminated.

Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal, said: “A test like this – which is sophisticated in design and simple to perform – could make effective cancer screening available in places where traditional medical technology might not be available.”