Fighting cancer once is hard enough, but a reoccurrence of this dreaded disease is incredibly demoralising, knowing you must go through the long, painful journey all over again.
Hopefully, with the latest research results from the Francis Crick Institute in London, the chances of a full blown relapse catching you off guard may have gotten a lot slimmer.
The trial, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the journal Nature, looked at lung cancer specifically. However, the principles used were so fundamental it can be applied to any form of cancer.
The researchers took samples from cancerous lungs removed during surgery and analysed the defective DNA within the cancer cells of each patient, building up a genetic fingerprint unique to each patient’s cancer.
Every three months following surgery, the scientists took blood samples and looked for tiny traces of the cancer DNA to reappear – traces that would be invisible to usual diagnostic tools like X-ray or CT scans.
The results showed that this new method was able to spot cancer recurrence up to a year earlier than any other diagnostic tool available in medicine right now.
That’s pretty ground-breaking if you ask me.
And as we all know, speed is everything when it comes to cancer. For women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 90 per cent will survive their disease for at least 5 years if spotted at the earliest stage, compared to only 5 per cent at the most advanced stage.
Ninety per cent will also survive for at least 5 years with bowel and breast cancer if spotted in the earliest stage. So this new innovative method of early detection could make all the difference.
The results of this study are an incredibly positive step forward in the diagnosis and management of cancer. And that is something we don’t get to celebrate too often in our fight against cancer.Wishing you the best of health,
Editorial Health Researcher
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‘Exciting’ blood test spots cancer a year early, published online, bbc.co.uk/news/health-39658680
Phylogenetic ctDNA analysis depicts early stage lung cancer evolution, published online, nature.com/nature/journal/vaap/ncurrent/full/nature22364
Why is early diagnosis important, published online, cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important