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Our Head of Research comments on a new blood test for cancers

Posted by: Research 1 April 2020

A new blood test which can detect more than 50 types of cancer has been revealed. Early results of trials published Annals of Oncology this week (March 2020) were promising but researchers are saying that more studies are needed.

Chris Macdonald, Head of Research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, writes about what this means for pancreatic cancer.

“These findings are an early indication of the benefits that could come from understanding the changes cancer makes to our DNA and how this aids diagnosis, but significant improvements to both the sensitivity and accuracy of this test are necessary before it could help save more lives from pancreatic cancer.

“It is the vague symptoms of pancreatic cancer that so often allow this devastating disease to go undetected until it is too late for treatment. The ability to determine with 100% accuracy that a patient has stage 4 pancreatic cancer will sadly not improve their survival. To be an effective tool, this test must be more sensitive for pancreatic cancer at an earlier, treatable stage and be specific enough to ensure doctors can be confident in their diagnosis.

“This is extremely important, especially for less common cancers. The vast majority of people who visit their GP with symptoms such as back-pain, indigestion or weight-loss will not be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and greater refinement of this test will be needed as it is developed to ensure that people are not mistakenly diagnosed with this devastating disease.”