A landmark study published in the American Association of Cancer Research's (AACR) prestigious journal 'Cancer Prevention Research' has shown that it is possible to identify healthy individuals with a higher risk of cancer based on a simple blood draw.
The study reports that seemingly normal, asymptomatic middle-aged men and women with no history of cancer but having detectable clusters of Circulating Tumor Cells (abbreviated as 'C-ETACs') in their blood have a 230 times higher one year risk of developing cancer as compared to individuals where such clusters were undetectable in blood samples.
In this multi-institutional international collaborative study led by Datar Cancer Genetics, the investigators screened more than 10,000 asymptomatic individuals for the detection of C-ETACs and subsequently followed up on these individuals over a period of one year.
Simultaneously, blood from more than 4000 cancer patients with various malignancies ('solid organ cancers') was also studied. The study findings revealed that C-ETACs were almost invariably found in cancer patients (more than 90 per cent) but were extremely rare (less than 5 per cent) in normal individuals with no diagnosis or symptom of cancer.
Subsequently, over a one-year follow-up, 3.475 per cent of C-ETAC positive normal individuals were diagnosed with various cancers as opposed to 0.015 per cent of C-ETAC negative individuals thus yielding a 230-fold increase in one year risk of a cancer diagnosis.
The study is significant because early detection of cancer and risk stratification of seemingly normal individuals remains an ongoing public health challenge.
9.6 million individuals worldwide succumb to cancer each year mainly because of late detection and even the World Health Organization in its 2014 Report has identified early detection as its major objective.
The C-ETAC detection technology and the test are developed by Datar Cancer Genetics using an innovative approach for selective destruction of non-cancer cells in the blood for harvesting C-ETACs. The accuracy of the test is 95.6 per cent and covers more than 20 cancers including breast, lung, ovarian, stomach, pancreatic, colon and prostate.
"C-ETACs are virtually a non-invasive micro-biopsy that will enable high confidence screening and risk stratification of seemingly normal individuals. The technology represents a major advancement for the early detection of cancer. The large size of the study is significant," said Dr Tim Crook, Medical Oncologist at Broomfield Hospital, UK, and one of the authors of the paper upon the results.
The research is published online (https://doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0322).
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