Blood test can detect eight cancers in early stages which could save half a million lives every year

CancerSEEK is a blood test that detects tiny amounts of DNA and proteins released into the bloodstream from cancer cells. This can then indicate the presence of ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, oesophageal, bowel, lung or breast cancers.

Known as a liquid biopsy, the test is distinctly different to a standard biopsy, where a needle is put into a solid tumor to confirm a cancer diagnosis. CancerSEEK, is also far less invasive. It can be performed without even knowing a cancer is present, and therefore allow for early diagnosis and more chance of a cure.

Several cancers can be screened for at once, and the test can be performed at the same time as routine blood tests, such as a cholesterol check. But the test is still some years away from being used in the clinic.

CancerSEEK in just over 1,000 people with different types of early-stage cancers. It was shown to accurately detect cancer, including in 70 percent or more of pancreas, ovary, liver, stomach and esophageal cancers. For each of these tumor types, there are currently no screening tests available — blood-based or otherwise.

Along with cancer detection, the blood test accurately predicted what type of cancer it was in 83 percent of cases.

* best case this and other blood tests and early detection tests get widely deployed over the next 5 years to save tens to hundreds of billions of dollars around the world and save 200,000 lives per year in the USA and 500,000 lives per year around the world

Arxiv – Estimating Cost Savings from Early Cancer Diagnosis, 2017

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in 2015 the U.S. national health expenditure (NHE) was $3.2 trillion and accounted for 17.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); NHE is projected to grow at an average rate of 5.6% per year in 2016-2025 [CMS, 2017]. Cancer care is projected to account for up to $177 billion in 2017 [NCI, 2017b], or nearly 1% of GDP. American Cancer Society estimates 1.7 million new cases of cancer and 600 thousand deaths in 2017 [ACS, 2017]. Although overall incidence rates for new cancer cases have been falling on average 1.1% each year over the last 10 years and death rates have been falling on average 1.5% each year over 2005-2014, the impact of population changes in the U.S. on cancer prevalence may exceed the impact of declining cancer incidence rates. Also, the population in the U.S. is expected to become much older: by 2030, more than 20% of the U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13% in 2010. Since cancer incidence typically is higher in the elderly, the aging population and costly advancements in treatment options will impact cancer survival and care expenditures, both of which are likely to increase in the future. Overall, the cancer costs do tend to rise.

A conservative estimate is for cost savings in the USA of $26 billion per year from effective early detection. This would also save tens of thousands of lives. The potential is to save over $100 bilion per year in the USA and $300 billion per year around the world and to save 200,000 lives each year in the USA.

Science – Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test

Earlier detection is key to reducing cancer deaths. Here we describe a blood test that can detect eight common cancer types through assessment of the levels of circulating proteins and mutations in cell-free DNA. We applied this test, called CancerSEEK, to 1,005 patients with non-metastatic, clinically detected cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, or breast. CancerSEEK tests were positive in a median of 70% of the eight cancer types. The sensitivities ranged from 69% to 98% for the detection of five cancer types (ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus) for which there are no screening tests available for average-risk individuals. The specificity of CancerSEEK was > 99%: only 7 of 812 healthy controls scored positive. In addition, CancerSEEK localized the cancer to a small number of anatomic sites in a median of 83% of the patients.