Blood Test For Detecting Cancer

DataQuest|November 2019

Blood Test For Detecting Cancer
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The final and inconclusive proof of the disease is tissue biopsy, a relatively painful process. In certain cases, the tumour is not accessible or the patient is very weak for biopsy. How then do the can oncologists confirm the presence of cancer?

Cancer is a dreaded term in most families. Across the globe, annually about 8 million people die of cancer. In USA alone, every year about 40,000 women die of breast cancer. Mammograms are the best test, yet they often produce false positives, which can warrant unwanted biopsies and surgeries. So called, “high-risk” lesions have abnormal cells and patients are advised surgery. About 90% of the time, the lesion is benign and surgery is an expensive and painful wasted exercise. The final and inconclusive proof of the disease is tissue biopsy, a relatively painful process. In certain cases, the tumour is not accessible or the patient is very weak for biopsy. How then do can oncologists confirm the presence of cancer?

The Research

The research related to cancer is predominantly on two major fronts – 1) to find drugs and ways to treat cancer and 2) to detect cancer at a very early stage where the chances of recovery and remission are high. Typically, people suspect cancer as the cause only when it manifests in some obvious and visible form. Nevertheless, often by then, the disease has progressed to an advanced stage – a stage beyond treatment. Can doctors detect them very early even before the person feels any symptoms? By detecting early, doctors can treat and save many lives and spare many people of anxiety and agony.

Can a simple blood test predict, detect and confirm the presence of cancer? yes, for a few types of cancers it is possible. Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is one for which a blood test is available. Testing the blood for the presence of tumour cells and DNA is a non-invasive approach compared to the invasive biopsy, which is a surgery.

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November 2019