Early Detection of Multiple Cancers: Blood Test Results of the US-based Pathfinder Study
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and early detection is crucial for effective treatment. In recent years, researchers have been working on developing blood tests that can detect multiple types of cancer at an early stage. These tests are known as multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests and are designed to detect cancer-specific DNA methylation patterns from cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shed by tumors into circulating blood.
The Pathfinder Study
The US-based Pathfinder study on MCED blood screening has shown promising results in detecting multiple types of cancer at an early stage . The study found that liquid biopsy, a test that looks for signs of cancer in the blood, can not only help in early detection of the disease but also figure out where the tumor is coming from . This is crucial as different treatments work better for tumors in different organs. The MCED test detects cancer-specific DNA methylation patterns from cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shed by tumors into circulating blood. If a cancer signal is detected, the test also predicts the cancer signal origin (CSO) or the cancer or tissue type where the tumor arose.
The Lancet Special Issue
The findings from the PATHFINDER study have been published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal . The study shows that MCED tests can detect multiple types of cancer at an early stage, which could lead to better treatment outcomes and improved survival rates . The study also highlights the importance of improving technology to find cancer mutations and making treatment accessible to all .
GRAIL’s Multi-Cancer Early Detection Blood Test
GRAIL, a California-based biotech company, has developed a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) blood test that can detect 50 types of cancer at an early stage . The test looks for fragments of tumor and cancer DNA in a person’s blood, hoping to catch the disease just as it forms and well before a person experiences symptoms . While important, getting all these tests done can be logistically challenging, expensive and sometimes uncomfortable for patients. But what if a single blood test could screen for most common cancer types all at once? This is the promise of MCED tests.
MCED tests are likely to transform cancer screening in the near future, particularly if they receive strong federal support to enable rapid innovation . Detecting cancer early before it spreads throughout the body can be lifesaving. This is why doctors recommend regular screening for several common cancer types, using a variety of methods. Colonoscopies screen for colon cancer, while mammograms screen for breast cancer. MCED tests are different from existing liquid biopsies because they are trying to detect early-stage cancer when there aren’t that many tumor cells yet.
In conclusion, MCED tests have shown promising results in detecting multiple types of cancer at an early stage. These tests could lead to better treatment outcomes and improved survival rates. However, there are still some challenges with accuracy being a major concern. Liquid biopsy isn’t perfect because it can miss some types of cancer or stages of cancer due to its high negative predictive value. It cannot always tell which part of the body the tumor is coming from.