New Blood Test May Detect Cancer Cells in Asymptomatic Patients

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A new study supported the use of a blood test to detect clusters of cancer cells in the blood of asymptomatic individuals, meaning, patients could have a non-invasive screening and testing method.

A new study, which was the largest of its kind in the world, may provide evidence to support the use of a blood test to detect clusters of cancer cells in the blood of asymptomatic individuals, according to Datar Cancer Genetics.

This would mean patients could have a non-invasive screening and testing method, making it easier to screen for cancer in an efficient and affordable manner.

“This is the first study of its kind to investigate the prevalence of circulating tumor emboli or C-ETACs (circulating ensembles of tumor associated cells), in a population size cohort of over 16,000 participants, to establish a definitive new systemic hallmark of cancer,” Dr. Dadasaheb Akolkar, the research director at Datar Cancer Genetics, said in a press release, adding that this is a breakthrough innovation.

The technique can efficiently and accurately isolate a few hundred malignant cells from more than 100 million cells, from just 10 milliliters of blood. These cells are found when clusters of cells break off from an early stage tumor and enter the bloodstream.

In the study, 16,134 participants, including 5,509 patients with cancer and 10,625 individuals with no symptoms, underwent the technique.

The test showed an accuracy of more than 94%. The circulating ensembles of tumor associated cells were seen in 89.8% of cancer cases and in only 3% of apparently healthy, asymptomatic individuals who had no abnormal findings in presently used screening tests.

“While almost all the cancer samples had these cell clusters, they were seen in very few of the samples which were apparently without cancer,” Akolkar said.

The company also presented these findings at international conferences, like the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society of Medical Oncology.

According to the release, the test will soon be available commercially.

"Cancer is rapidly becoming a civilizational challenge. Importantly, cancer deaths are mainly due to late detection. We believe that this innovative blood-based test is a breakthrough in cancer screening and will impact outcomes by easy, patient-friendly detection and diagnosis in apparently healthy people who may have a silent malignancy in their bodies,” Rajan Datar, chairman and managing director of Datar Cancer Genetics, said in the release.

“It has the potential to eliminate the need for invasive biopsies and the risks associated with it,” he added. “In the near future, a simple, inexpensive blood test that could be all that is required to reliably detect and diagnose cancer, even before any symptoms are seen."