If you find yourself worried about cancer, researchers have developed a new blood test that may help with detecting them.

From breast cancer to prostate cancer, awareness about various forms of this disease has increased tremendously over the years. Lots of hard work has gone into figuring out how to combat the disease, and thanks to the recent work of some scientists, we may now have an easier way to detect them before it’s too late.

The Guardian reported that a new blood test has been developed that could allow doctors to detect 8 of the most common cancers that are around today. The 8 are ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers.

Published in the Science journal, researchers managed to detect cancer-related protein biomarkers as well as mutated DNA in blood that was previously undetectable before. This has allowed them to not only test for cancers earlier, but also check for cancers which have no tests currently available (liver, oesophageal, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer).

“The use of a combination of selected biomarkers for early detection has the potential to change the way we screen for cancer, and it is based on the same rationale for using combinations of drugs to treat cancers,” said Nickolas Papadopoulos, a senior author of the study and professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University.

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Despite this promising news, Paul Pharoah, professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, said that cancers that were detected were in their more advanced stages, which is not as helpful as the tests first appear to be.

“Firstly, 80% of the cancers evaluated were stage two or stage three cancers – fairly advanced,” Pharoah said. “Demonstrating that a test can detect advanced cancers does not mean that the test will be useful in detecting early stage symptomatic cancer, much less pre-symptomatic cancer. The sensitivity for the stage one cancers in the study was only 40%.”

Bert Vogelstein, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins, argues that the test definitely has its uses, and that we should look at the big picture of what this test means.

“Many of the most promising cancer treatments we have today only benefit a small minority of cancer patients, and we consider them major breakthroughs. If we are going to make progress in early cancer detection, we have to begin looking at it in a more realistic way, recognising that no test will detect all cancers,” he says.

The advancement of cancer detection certainly has many of us interested. Even if some may argue that the test is not as effective as it claims to be at this point of time, it’s a step in the right direction.

By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer

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