One day, people may get a cancer test as easily as their cholesterol testing.
"Fluid Biophysiology" – is an active research area for cancer diagnosis. Although research is still in the early stages and the test is for years, perhaps over ten years, out of reach of the public, experts say it could be valuable.
"I think that early detection of cancers that are deadly and potentially healing at an early stage can be a gambler," says Dr. John Lewis of the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta.
How does the liquid biopsy test work?
The test works by detecting changes in the bloodstream, such as mutated DNA fragments or certain molecular changes that indicate the presence of cancer. Right now, the eating is diagnosed by tissue biopsy, a much more invasive method.
Liquid biopsies can be used for a variety of purposes, such as monitoring, cancer treatment is actually shrinking tumor, individual treatments based on the patient's specific genetic mutation and detection. At least this is what scientists want.
In a recent recently published study, the Toronto-based research group was able to train a computer program to identify some chemical changes in the bloodstream in people with early stage cancer cases and even to find out what kind of cancer the patient had a list of a few different types.
"This opens the door, it's still in the research phase, but it opens a liquid biopsy door to detect early cancer," said research professor Daniel De Carvalho, a senior scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Center.
Another study published in the Science program in early 2018 also showed promising results in bloodstream cancer tests that could identify eight different cancer events with an average success rate of 70 percent of over 1,000 patients.
These procedures need to be further improved, processed and tested before they enter the mass market, says De Carvalho, and it will take years. But he thinks that recognizing cancer early might be a big difference for some people.
"The earlier we recognize cancer, the easier it is to treat the patient."
For these tests, "The goal is to find it when the tumor is so small that you can take it off," says the Canadian research team in the Canadian research team as an integration into molecular epidemiology in the Toronto Health System.
Hung, another factor in the field of wildlife research, believes that liquid biopsies can be particularly useful in patients with lung, pancreas, or other aggressive fast growing cancers where early detection causes a great deal of difference in treatment outcome.
Treatment of cancer
Treatment is still a big issue. What do you do if you find cancer, but you can not do anything about it?
"It's a very active conversation right now," Lewis said.
"If we know that something is there and we do not have a clear, clinical way forward, are the data useful?"
For prostate cancer, for example, the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test has been criticized for leading to over-diagnosis.
"For example, the PSA test has given many men to test prostate cancer earlier, but the side effect of PSA screening has led to the diagnosis of many men with non-aggressive cancer." said. This test has been criticized for leading to unnecessary additional tests or even treatments that may not have caused the problem.
"Diagnosis of cancer, anxiety and burden are based on diagnosis, and most people most often want to do something about it. There is often no clear clinical benefit or even alternative treatment."
This is not a problem in aggressive cancer types such as lung cancer, said Hung. "We rarely see lung or pancreatic cancer that is sitting there, so for those with over-diagnosis there is less problem, but that's a problem for others."
These tests are also not likely to directly lead to cancer diagnosis, he said. Instead, patients would probably be exposed to CT scans and other imaging tests after a positive result.
But Carvalho hopes that as his computer program pulls himself to better identify the various types of cancer, he knows what does not lead to serious medical questions, and that identifies and identifies them.
Less important for aggressive cancer, such as prostate cancer, is to identify which cancer kills the patient, not whether the patient is cancer, said Lewis.
"So the liquid biopsy and the whole field must be more precise than" Do I have cancer? "It must be accurate:" Do I have an aggressive cancer that I need to take? & # 39; "
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