Blood test can detect lung, breast cancers before symptoms appear
Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a blood test that can, in roughly one hour, detect the beginning stages of cancer.

The test was developed by Stefan Bossmann, PhD, and Deryl Troyer, PhD, of Kansas State University, in Manhattan. It can detect breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer before symptom presentation, according to a press release from the university.

"We see this as the first step into a new arena of investigation that could eventually lead to improved early detection of human cancers," Troyer said in the release. "Right now the people who could benefit the most are those classified as at-risk for cancer, such as heavy smokers and people who have a family history of cancer. The idea is these at-risk groups could go to their physician's office quarterly or once a year, take an easy-to-do, noninvasive test, and be told early on whether cancer has possibly developed."

The test works by detecting increased enzyme activity in the body. Iron nanoparticles coated with amino acids and dye are introduced to small amounts of blood or urine from a patient. The amino acids and dye interact with enzymes in the patient's urine or blood sample, with each type of cancer producing a specific enzyme pattern.

Besides early detection, the researchers said the test can be modified to monitor cancer. Patients treated with drugs can be observed for drug effectiveness and the dye in the test can be used to determine if the entirety of a tumor has been successfully removed after surgery.

Researchers evaluated the test’s accuracy on 32 separate participants—20 with breast cancer and 12 with lung cancer. Twelve people without cancer were used as a control group.

According to the university, data analysis showed a 95 percent success rate in detecting cancer in patients, including those with breast cancer in stages 0 and 1 and those with lung cancer in stages 1 and 2. The results, data and analysis were recently submitted to the Kansas Bio Authority for accelerated testing.

Bossmann and Troyer have designed a second testing method that is anticipated to produce the same results in five minutes, according to the release. The researchers also anticipate being able to test for the early stages of pancreatic cancer shortly.