New blood test for early cancer diagnosis

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Novel blood test enables early and reliable cancer diagnosis

Physicians from the University Hospital Tübingen, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and the Clemens Hospital of the University of Münster have found a way to reliably detect cancer using a blood test. For oral cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer, early detection of cancer is possible with the help of the new blood test, the researchers write in the specialist magazine "BMC Cancer".

In general, the chances of cure for cancer "depend crucially on an early diagnosis," report the doctors and researchers around the Tübingen oral, maxillofacial and facial surgeon Dr. Martin Grimm. In a study with 50 oral cancer patients, 115 prostate cancer patients and 48 breast cancer patients, the scientists were able to confirm the reliability of the blood test in the early diagnosis of cancer. This is an important step on the way to a test that can identify cancers reliably and early and does not require a tissue sample to be taken.

Significant deficits in conventional cancer tests The new blood test uses the “immune system and the activity of those circulating in the blood Phagocytesthat absorb tumor cells "to identify possible cancers, write Grimm and colleagues. Since conventional cancer tests often recognize the disease too late or not reliably enough, doctors have long been looking for more reliable diagnostic methods. Incorrectly positive test results were also often an issue in the past because they cause great uncertainty among patients. For example, "the PSA blood test for the detection of prostate cancer or the mammography for the early detection of breast cancer in some patients led to positive test results without actual cancer", reports the University Hospital Tübingen in its current press release. So far, there has been no possibility at all of oral cancer "to get an indication of the disease through a blood test."

New blood test a breakthrough in cancer diagnostics? For the new blood test, the doctors used EDIM technology (EDIM: epitope detection in monocytes), which enables laser-based detection of the tumor cell material in the phagocytes. A small blood sample was enough to identify oral cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer early using the EDIM test. Since the recurrence of cancer (recurrence) can also be determined with the test, it is also suitable for monitoring therapy, the researchers report. "The results of the study are a milestone in cancer diagnostics," concludes Dr. Grimm, who hopes to establish the test in clinical routine within the next six months. According to this, cancer diagnoses for corresponding tumors could be made significantly easier in the future or without tissue samples and at the same time more reliably. However, according to the researchers, "further prospective studies are required to validate this new concept for the diagnosis of neoplasia and tumor recurrence." (Fp)

Image: Andrea Damm /

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