As we are all aware, early detection is the key to beating cancer. Not only does early detection save lives but it can give the patient a wider range of treatment options. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 1,529,560 new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2010.
The good news is that British scientists have developed a simple blood test that they believe can detect cancer up to five years earlier than conventional methods.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham partner company Oncimmune, Ltd., have developed the test using data from blood samples taken over a number of years.
The test will be able to detect solid cancers such as breast, lung, colon, prostate and ovarian. Early on in the growth of a tumor the cancer cells produce an antigen. The body's immune system, in direct response, releases antibodies to counteract these antigens. The new technology mimics these antigens and ground-breaking robotic technology is used to measure the body's response. Oncimmune has been able to turn this science into a commercial test.
These finding were based on the early work of leading breast cancer specialist Dr. John Robertson, professor of surgery on the University of Nottingham's faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Blood samples were taken from women with breast cancer, as well as women considered at high risk of breast cancer whose samples were taken during annual mammograms over a number of years. The researchers were able to identify a trigger in the blood of the women who developed breast cancer. They also discovered that this signal was also present in the blood of those women who had been attending their mammograms, who had then gone on to develop breast cancer.
Robertson's early work showed that this test could have identified over half of these cancers up to five years before official diagnosis.
“We believe that this test, along with the others we will launch in the next few years, will lead to a better prognosis for a significant number of cancer sufferers,” said Geoffrey Hamilton-Fairly, Executive Chairman of Oncimmune.