Early detection of cancer is an important key to treating and sometimes surviving it, experts agree.
By Matt McMillen for WebMD, Mar 28, 2017
Detecting cancer may be getting easier.
New kinds of tests that promise to be less invasive are beginning to exit the lab and enter the market -- with more under development.
By using blood, urine, and saliva, researchers hope these new tests may reduce the need for often painful, risky biopsies, a type of surgery to remove suspicious tissue for study.
The hunt for new ways to detect cancer has heated up in the past few years, as has investment in new tools and tests. In January, a San Francisco-based startup called Grail pledged to raise $1 billion to develop a blood test for early detection.
“Five years ago, there would not have been such a long list [of new and experimental tests], says Peter Mazzone, MD, the director of the lung cancer program at the Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute.
The discovery that cancer can be detected in certain biomarkers, like DNA, RNA, and proteins, is driving test development. Advances in technology over the past 5 to 10 years have allowed scientists to use those discoveries to create tools to diagnose cancers.
Already, at least three early cancer detection tests are on the market. The FDA approved Cologuard, which screens for colon cancer, in 2014. Oncimmune and Integrated Diagnostics have developed blood tests that help screen for lung cancer and are performed in the companies’ federally certified laboratories. (FDA approval is not required for tests unless they are commercially marketed.)