Blood test can identify cancers without clear symptoms

(NewsNation) – A simple blood test can help screen for cancers, in most cases by catching the disease before clear symptoms develop, according to a new study.

The results of the Pathfinder study from healthcare company GRAIL show the possibilities of so-called early multi-cancer screening, which detects cancers at an early stage.

“The PATHFINDER study is an exciting first step towards a fundamental change in the approach to cancer screening. The study demonstrated the feasibility of this paradigm and strong test performance,” said Deb Schrag, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

“While continued public health efforts to optimize adherence to existing screening strategies that have been shown to be effective are essential, this study provides a glimpse of what the future may hold – the opportunity for screening at using blood tests to detect various types of cancers at their earliest and most treatable stages.

The study included 6,662 participants aged 50 or older whose blood was tested for what GRAIL calls cancer signals, which were found in 92 participants. Of these, 35 were diagnosed with 36 cancers. Cancer cells send signals to regulate growth or initiate apoptosis (cell death), according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

“When added to standard screening, MCED testing more than doubled the number of cancers detected compared to standard screening alone,” said Jeffrey Venstrom, MD, chief medical officer at GRAIL.

Known as Galleri’s test, the blood draw has been hailed as a “game changer” by the National Health Service in England, which is conducting its own trial.

The blood test can also identify where in the body the cancer may have started, which can help doctors confirm a diagnosis more quickly. The Pathfinder study was the first time Galleri test results were returned to health care providers to help with follow-up diagnostic work.

Of the confirmed cancers diagnosed in the study, 71% were types of cancer that currently do not have routine screening tests, and nearly half were stage I or stage II. Less than 1% of study participants received a false positive.

The results of the study were presented last weekend at the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Paris. GRAIL is currently enrolling for its Pathfinder 2 study, which will follow participants over three years.

“This study was the prelude to a larger study. We had to see how doctors would approach the workup, what diagnostic odysseys we would send to patients, and whether they would be upset,” Schrag said at the Paris conference, as reported by Cancer Network. “People were a little anxious, but it was manageable, and it was temporary. People understood the ramifications of this test, and they were a little anxious, but they did very well. »


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