Scientists have identified more than 800 markers in the blood of cancer patients that could lead to a single blood test for early detection of many types of cancer, according to new research.
This is the first time that cancer-specific blood markers have been comprehensively reviewed and identified for further clinical development.
The study, by the UK Early Cancer Detection Consortium, analysed 19,000 scientific papers and found more than 800 biomarkers.
The consortium unites expertise from various disciplines including more than 20 universities, hospitals and commercial partners.
The aim of the research is to develop a screening test from a single blood sample for multiple cancer types. All cancers produce markers in the blood, so it could be feasible to develop a general screening test for many different forms of the disease.
Developing more ways to spot cancers earlier, including research into new screening technologies such as this, could help give more options for curative treatment, and save more lives in the future.
The study could open the way for less invasive, new screening tests that could detect more cancers, possibly including some rare types, at an early stage when they are more likely to be treatable, researchers said.
“This is a new approach to early detection and the first time such a systematic review has been done,” Professor Ian Cree, a Cancer Research UK funded scientist at the University of Warwick and University Hospital in Coventry, said.
“A single blood-based screening test would be a game changer for early detection of cancer which could help make it a curable disease for many more patients. We believe that we’ve identified all the relevant biomarkers; the next step is working out which ones work the best for spotting cancers,” said Cree.
The identified biomarkers will be reviewed and categorised before they are developed further in clinical laboratory studies, researchers said.