A Universal Blood Test for Cancer

Did You Know… that scientists have devised a simple universal blood test for cancer?

The days of fearing cancer, expensive and invasive tests, and unnecessary treatments based on misdiagnosis may finally be coming to an end.  According to a report this week in Science Daily, researchers from the University of Bradford have “devised a simple blood test that can be used to diagnose whether people have cancer or not.”

This test, called Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS), uses ultraviolet waves to detect DNA abnormalities in blood samples that indicate cancer and precancerous conditions.  LGS could help your doctor rule out cancer when you go in to be seen for certain troublesome symptoms that—while potentially harmless—raise cancer concerns.  LGS could also eliminate some of the invasive routine cancer tests such as colonoscopies and biopsies.

The research is published online in FASEB Journal, the US journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Early Results Show High Levels of Accuracy 

The research team at the University of Bradford has suggested that this simple blood test is highly accurate for diagnosing cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients who have melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer), colon cancer, and lung cancer.

LGS works by identifying damage to the DNA of white blood cells when they are subjected to various intensities of ultraviolet light, which is known to damage DNA.  Study results show a marked difference between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer or pre-cancerous conditions compared to those of healthy patients.

How the Blood Test Works 

In testing LGS, researchers were hypothesizing that they might see observable effects on these white blood cells by placing them under further stress with UVA light.

The researchers examined blood samples from 208 individuals. What they found is that people with cancer have DNA that’s more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than do healthy people.

When Will the Test Be Available?

More research will need to be conducted before the test is made widely available.  Currently, another clinical trial is being conducted at Bradford Royal Infirmary.  This trial will examine whether LGS can accurately predict which patients with suspected colorectal cancer would or would not benefit from colonoscopy.

The lead researcher on the University of Bradford study noted that while more research is needed, these early results are remarkable, and indicate that LGS has the potential to be a useful diagnostic test and a valuable addition to current procedures for detecting cancer.