Simple blood test could detect 10 forms of cancer years before symptoms appear

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Scientists have developed a simple blood test that can detect ten types of cancer from a single sample.

The breakthrough has been hailed as the “holy grail” of cancer research able to pick up cancers potentially years before someone has symptoms.

It opens the door to “universal screening” of the population on the NHS that could save ten of thousands of lives each year.

The simple check up can detect signs of lung, head and neck, lymphoma,

multiple myeloma, colorectal, ovarian, pancreatic, liver, esophageal and breast cancers.

A study of more than 1,400 people test achieved up to 90% accuracy by picking up fragments of DNA released into the blood by fast-growing cancer cells.

Experts said it could be available in hospitals in a few years and is likely to cost between £500 and £1,000 a time.

The findings are being unveiled at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Lead author Dr Eric Klein, of Cleveland Clinic, said: “This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure, and we hope this test could save many lives.

“Most cancers are detected at a late stage, but this ‘liquid biopsy’ gives us the opportunity to find them months or years before someone would develop symptoms and be diagnosed.”

The best results were for ovarian and pancreatic cancer with the test correctly diagnosing 90% and 80% of people with the early warning signs of these diseases.

The best results were for ovarian and pancreatic cancer with the test correctly diagnosing 90% and 80% of people with the early warning signs of these diseases.

Four out of five people were also successfully diagnosed with liver and gall bladder cancers.

For blood cancers lymphoma and myeloma, it was 77% and 73% accurate, while correctly diagnosing two-thirds of people with bowel cancer.

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