Scientists invented a new blood test that can detect whether a cancer is recurring a whole year before any current mainstream tests can detect. In general, blood tests are non-invasive, cheaper, and easier to get done. This new method could prove to be an ideal first line of defense for cancer patients.

If you’ve survived a form of cancer, this new research is great news for you! Researchers have invented a new blood test that can detect your cancer from recurring 365 days before X-rays, CT scans, and other current mainstream diagnostics.

Depending on your form of cancer, recurrence can be a little or a significant worry. These researchers originally developed this new recurrence detection method especially for lung cancer patients in remission because lung cancer has about a 50 percent chance of recurring.

They took samples from tumors removed from surgery and created a genetic profile from the cancer cells’ mutated DNA. They then drew the patient’s blood each month post-surgery and tested it for any traces of the cancer cells’ genetic profile. They found that if the cancer starts recurring, its genetic profile is present and detectable in the blood one year before the recurring cancer can be detected using current methods.

If first caught early via this new blood test, the recurring cancer cluster is still tiny at 0.3 cubic millimeters.

The great news is that they found this new blood test works for all recurring cancers, not just lung cancer – the key is that doctors need a sample of your cancer cells to make a genetic profile they can keep checking your blood for. But the blood test is not error-free – in the study, 13 out of 14 patients’ recurrence were detected with the blood test. That means one patient didn’t luck out and the blood test didn’t catch his starting recurrence.

It also doesn’t work on people who’ve never had cancer. Its current usage is limited to detecting cancer recurrence in patients in remission.

Sampling for the Blood Test Also Gives Hints on Risk of Recurrence

While creating genetic profiles from tumors from many patients, the researchers happened upon another good find. They found that the patients who ended up with a recurrence usually also have cancer cells with more genetic instability. They concluded that recurrence is more likely if a cancer cells’ chromosomes are more favorable toward shuffling or translocating their genes.

The researchers hope to use this supplementary finding to create drugs that stabilize cancer cells’ genetics in hopes of slowing tumor growth and overall cancer progression.

In the meantime, patients in remission whose cancer cells’ genetic profiles exhibit genetic instability are more closely monitored for the possibility of recurrence.

Although this new research can’t currently help diagnose new cancers, it is a significant advancement in overall cancer research. With this new blood test, patients in remission can be diagnosed and treated if a recurrence starts budding before these patients even experience any symptoms. In the grand scheme, it will certainly save many more lives from cancer.