New blood test capable of detect 20 types of cancers
Methyl groups are chemical units that can be attached to DNA, in a process called methylation, to control which genes are "on" and which are "off." Abnormal patterns of methylation turn out to be, in many cases, more indicative of cancer - and cancer type-than mutations are.
"Our previous work indicated that methylation-based assays outperform traditional DNA-sequencing approaches to detecting multiple forms of cancer in blood samples," said the study's lead author Geoffrey Oxnard from Dana-Farber. "The results of the new study demonstrate that such assays are a feasible way of screening people for cancer," Oxnard added.
Detecting even a modest percent of common cancers early could translate into many patients who may be able to receive more effective treatment if the test were in wide use, the study said. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators presented the results of the trial during a session at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2019 Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on September 28.