When it comes to saving lives from cancer, the earlier the diagnosis, the better. But early diagnosis or identification of certain cancers – including melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer – is often quite difficult. Now, researchers in the UK have developed a simple blood test that could identify which patients have cancer.
The researchers say their test could help doctors in ruling out cancer for patients who present with certain symptoms, which could save time and money, and help to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, including colonoscopies and biopsies. Additionally, the test could help with patients who are suspected of having a cancer that is difficult to diagnose.
The test, called the Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test, examines white blood cells and measures the damage done to their DNA when blasted with different levels of ultraviolet light (UVA). The team explains this type of light damages DNA.
“White blood cells are part of the body’s natural defense system,” says lead researcher Prof. Diana Anderson, from the university’s School of Life Sciences.
“We know that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases, so I wondered whether anything measurable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light,” she adds. “We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA – the genome – in a cell.”
Overall, the team says their results show a clear difference in the damage to the white blood cells of patients with cancer, patients with pre-cancerous conditions and those who are healthy.
“This is just in its early stages,” said Prof. Anderson, “but it shows a lot of promise.”
Source: Medical News Today