(HealthDay News) — A multi-analyte blood test, CancerSEEK, can detect 8 common cancer types, with high sensitivity and specificity, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Science.

Joshua D. Cohen, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues describe a blood test that can detect eight common cancer types through assessment of circulating protein levels and mutations in cell-free DNA. The test was applied to 1,005 patients with non-metastatic, clinically detected cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, or breast.

The researchers found that in a median of 70% of the 8 cancer types, CancerSEEK tests were positive. For detection of 5 cancer types (ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus) for which there are no screening tests available for average-risk individuals, the sensitivities ranged from 69% to 98%. The specificity of the test was above 99%; positive scores occurred in only 7of 812 healthy controls. In a median of 83% of the patients, CancerSEEK also localized the cancer to a small number of anatomic sites.

“Our study lays the conceptual and practical foundation for a single, multi-analyte blood test for cancers of many types,” the authors write. “To actually establish the clinical utility of CancerSEEK and to demonstrate that it can save lives, prospective studies of all incident cancer types in a large population will be required.”

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Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, and some are inventors on a patent application that involves the multi-analyte approach involved in the study.

Reference

Cohen JD, Li L, Wang Y, et al. Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test. Science. 18 Jan 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3247