New test detects cancer in people with nonspecific symptoms

The blood test could help identify cancer earlier when patients are more likely to respond to treatment.

A new blood test has been developed that could enable cancer detection in people with nonspecific symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue.

The test help patients by enabling early access to drugs designed to tackle metastatic cancer and can also tell if the disease has spread. At present, there is no clear way through which someone with nonspecific symptoms that could be cancer is referred for further investigation, The Guardian reports.

“The problem we’ve had in the past is that if they do have cancer, that cancer is growing all the time, and when they come back the cancers are often quite advanced,” said Dr James Larkin, of the University of Oxford, who was involved in the research.

The new test uses a technology called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which profiles levels of small molecules called metabolites in the blood. The metabolic “fingerprints” of healthy individuals differ from those with localised or metastatic cancer.

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