London, May 18
UK researchers have developed a novel blood test that can detect early-stage bowel cancer in 80 per cent cases.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. It takes one of the longest waiting times for diagnosis and treatments.
Researchers at Swansea University developed the blood test using Raman spectrometry and a recent trial showed the test picked up about 80 percent of early-stage cancers, BBC reported.
Once a patient gives a small sample of blood, lasers are fired through it. It gives a pattern and using Artificial Intelligence, the pattern can be checked to see if the cancer has leaked into the blood. Doctors can then fast-track patients for early treatment.
"It's like a cancer fingerprint," Ann Tate, CEO of Cancer Research Wales, was quoted as saying.
The trial involved 595 patients across west Wales and 79 per cent of early-stage bowel cancers and 100 per cent of advanced bowel cancers were picked up by the test.
The blood test also means people will be able to avoid more invasive tests, like a colonoscopy, the report said. Tate said the blood test can also be used for screening as well to replace the stool sample people over 60 are currently asked to produce.
The samples are not always accurate, meaning people are sometimes called in unnecessarily for a colonoscopy.
"It has potential to be a real life changer for all of us. That's the really exciting thing about this," Tate said.
"The team are beginning to look to see whether this can identify other cancers. That's quite a long way down the line but if it does – it really will change things."