According to a report by American Health and Drug Benefits, a new blood test may change cancer screening. The new test would allow for earlier detection than current techniques. Supporting the new practice is a study of genome sequencing. The new test utilizes plasma cell-free DNA or cfDNA. Researchers are referring to it as an “untapped opportunity” to advance cancer detection. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for further information.
CfDNA has already proven useful for detecting certain mutations. In cancer, however, it has thus far proven useful only in advanced conditions. Some evidence has suggested it may be useful in detection of lung cancer.
A study, known as the CCGA Study (Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas) launched with the purpose of investigating a noninvasive assay. The study included a number of control and training patients. The study also occurred across multiple centers to rule out any variables associated with geography. Three prototype assays were tested.
Previous methods without special filtering were ruled out. False positive rates ocured at too high of a percentage. Using the CCGA technique, more than half of lung cancers become detectable while false positives are reduced to about two percent of cases.
The Test of Tomorrow?
Across the three tested assays, the rate of detection is impressive. Researchers identified about half of all lung cancers. In advanced cases, this number rises to 90%. Taken together, these results create an impressive picture. CfDNA-based tests may be the cancer screening that is sorely needed for early detection. Not only can it detect cancer early, but it can do so with a high level of specificity.
Many patients in the CCGA study, however, remain to be tested. There’s still a lot of data being waited on and many potential ways in which the test could be improved. Researchers meanwhile describe the results as promising at best, and interesting at worst. It appears the CCGA tests will be an important step towards a new screening. Even if they are only a first step, being able to detect lung cancer 51% of the time with only a blood draw is a big first step.