Could A Single Drop of Blood Be Enough to Detect Cancer?

Could the entire cancer detection process be streamlined to testing just a single drop of blood?

That's what Dutch researchers at the VU University Medical Cancer Center in Amsterdam are saying. Their new study reports that they have found a way to detect cancer using one drop of blood, according to ScienceDump.


The study, lead by Dr. Tom Würdinger, involved one thousand cancer patients, and was able to detect with up to 96% accuracy whether cancerous cells were present as well as what type of cancer and whether or not it had metastasized, or moved to infect another part of the body.  

To compare, just this May, new breast cancer screening technology raised detection rates by 67%. This new study increases that percentage by quite a lot.

The test doesn't have the same accuracy level for all different types of cancer, however. It was the most accurate in detecting intestinal cancer, and the accuracy dropped 11 percent for brain cancer.

Right now, cancer detection is an expensive, time-consuming process that can involve screening methods like PET-CT scans and tissue biopsies, among other tests.

According to Cancer Research UK, early diagnosis of cancer is important because it is less likely to metastasize if caught sooner. Detecting cancer before it spreads to different parts of the body makes it much easier to treat, greatly increasing survival rates. For example, 90% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer early on survive for five years or more. For women diagnosed in the latest stages of the cancer, that figure drops to just 5%. In the long run, this would also save cancer patients a lot of money as well, for the same reasons. 

Dr. Würdinger and his team hope to make the tests available at a low cost to the public as early as the year 2020.