Simple blood test can check for more than 50 cancers

Researchers have found a simple blood test can check for more than 50 types of cancer.

Investigators involved in the study including researchers from UCL hope that their findings bring them one step nearer a multi-cancer screening test that can be used across populations.

Detection of cancers before symptoms occur means people can be treated earlier and with greater prospect of recovery.

The study, funded by GRAIL which developed the blood test, involved thousands of people with and without cancer. Cancers were detected from early to late stage, although the test was better at detecting later stage cancers. Experts said further research was needed to check the test did not provide false positives and to see if the test could be developed to better detect early stage cancers.

The single blood test looks for chemical changes to cell-free DNA caused by a tumour.

The study, published in in Annals of Oncology, found the blood test was able to detect cancers such as bowel, lung, ovarian, bladder and head and neck cancers among many others. When a cancer signal was detected, a tissue of origin result was provided for 96% of the samples, and of these, the test correctly identified the tissue of origin in 93% of cases.