As medical research progresses, new screening methods are bound to be discovered. For many years, scientists have worked towards a blood test that can detect early-stage cancers. However, they have always stated that we are a long way off from seeing such tests for clinical use. A recent test shows promise that we may be one step closer to seeing this become reality.

This experiment is the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study. It currently has over 12,000 participants enrolled. The tests screen the blood looking for shed DNA from cancerous tumors. From these experiments, the tests were able to detect early-stage lung cancer almost 50% of the time and late-stage lung cancer up to 90%. These tests were carried out on patients already diagnosed with lung cancer.

The tests also did not yield many false positives. Tests were done on 580 people who were thought to be cancer-free. Only 5 tests came back reporting the presence of cancer. Out of the 5 false positives, two of the patients were later diagnosed with cancer.

These results show promise. Researchers do warn that there is still a way to go before such tests are available for the average person. These tests need to be refined for better results as well as meeting other challenges that come from blood screening.

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Geoffrey Oxnard, M.D., associate professor, medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston; Bruce Johnson, M.D., ASCO president, and chief clinical research officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; June 2, 2018, presentation, American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Chicago

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