Diagnosing Asymptomatic Cancer With Blood Tests Could Save Lives

November 12, 2020
Mike Hennessy Sr., Chairman

CURE, CURE® Fall 2020 Issue, Volume 19, Issue 4

Finding cancer may be easier now, as blood tests are being developed to diagnose patients with asymptomatic cancer.

Liquid biopsies are an emerging technology that is changing the cancer experience.

These tests that can detect microscopic signs of cancer in the blood are working their way into practice as a way to help direct treatment. They can aid doctors in determining whether a treated cancer is likely to recur and in checking for new gene mutations that may have developed in a tumor, indicating the need for a different therapy choice.

In certain blood cancers, liquid biopsies can also be used to look for the earliest signs of cancer in people with no symptoms. This can lead to a diagnosis when a cancer is at its very earliest stages, allowing therapy to start when the disease is easiest to successfully treat or even cure. But what if there were blood tests that could look for a whole scope of cancers, including solid tumors, in asymptomatic patients?

Those tests are on the horizon, and the life- and cost-saving possibilities they could introduce into the field are astonishing. In a feature in this issue of CURE®, we delve into this topic with a close look at diagnostic cancer blood tests that are in development.

We also consider exciting new findings in the targeted drug arena by exploring medicines being developed to treat two gene mutations that are considered “superdrivers” of cancer. Specifically, we discuss drugs designed to treat KRAS G12C and EGFR exon 20 insertions in non-small cell lung cancer, which doctors say could be game-changers for eligible patients.

Meanwhile, in our cover story, we explain early research that indicates there may be an advantage to fasting or following a ketogenic diet during chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer to make the therapies more effective and the side effects more tolerable. You’ll read about how depriving cancer cells of glucose essentially starves them so they can’t grow.

In another diet-related article, we discuss updates to the nutritional labels on food, outlining what new information you’ll see after a recent update.

Elsewhere in this issue, we focus on specific cancer types, sharing recent news from the European Society for Medical Oncology Virtual 2020 Congress about emerging treatments for breast, liver and colorectal cancers. In other cancer-type news, we report on a vaccine for patients with advanced melanoma, early-detection options in pancreatic cancer and quality of life in cholangiocarcinoma. And we offer a look at a rare condition, von Hippel-Lindau disease, which in some cases can lead to kidney and other cancers.

We hope you enjoy these stories and others in the issue, and that they leave you more informed about your cancer journey and inspired by what’s on the horizon when it comes to both diagnosis and treatment. As always, thank you for reading.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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