British scientists have introduced a new type of blood test that can diagnose cancer before any symptoms appear. The authors explain that this test works as a "smoke detector": it detects the presence of not the cancer cells themselves, but changes in red blood cells (erythrocytes) that occur in cancer.
The test was developed for four years, and the study involved 300 healthy people, patients with precancerous conditions and patients with bowel cancer. The analysis helps to identify mutations in proteins that are attached to red blood cells (they determine the Rh factor of the blood). In healthy people, these mutations are about 5 per million red blood cells, and in people with cancer - from 50 to 100. Scientists note that these indicators are quite simple to measure. The new test costs only £ 35 and can be processed in a few hours in any medical laboratory with a standard set of equipment.
The researchers emphasize that early diagnosis of cancer plays a crucial role in treatment. The authors of the test believe that it will be possible to regularly check people at risk with it, and also note the potential of the new test for diagnosing bowel cancer, which is rarely noticed in the early stages. A patient with bowel cancer now lives an average of a year after diagnosis, making this cancer one of the most dangerous.