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Scientists design blood test to detect cancer

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London: Scientists have for the first identified biomarkers in blood that can help in diagnosing cancer in people with non-related symptoms. These symptoms could be unexpected signs like weight loss or fatigue.

The test could help in early diagnosis and design better treatment strategies against the disease. Scientists have said that there is no clear route to identify and relate non-specific symptoms to cancer and patients are sent back since these causes cannot be identified and by the time they return, cancer would have advanced. Dr. James Larkin, a researcher from the University of Oxford said, "The problem we’ve had in the past is that if they do have cancer, that cancer is growing all the time, and when they come back the cancers are often quite advanced." The research published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research states that biomarkers within the blood metabolome could identify cancers within a mixed population of patients referred from primary care with nonspecific symptoms. To conduct the test and identify the blood biomarkers, researchers analysed data of 304 patients with nonspecific symptoms between 2017-18 from the Oxfordshire Suspected Cancer (SCAN) pathway, a multidisciplinary diagnostic centre.

Using the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy technology, researchers profiled the metabolites, small molecules in the blood. These metabolites have the fingerprints of cancer. Researchers found cancer in 19 out of every 20 patients who had fatigue and weight-loss symptoms. The test also distinguished between patients with localised or metastatic cancer with 94% accuracy.

According to reports, researchers are now planning to confirm the accuracy of the test in 2,000 to 3000 British patients with nonspecific symptoms. The test could take up to two years, however, if successful, it could help in the early detection and treatment of cancer across the world, the India Today news reported.

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