Blood test for cancer on way

Southampton: Scientists in the UK are working on ‘early warning’ blood test for cancer.

It looks for tell-tale signs in the blood long before symptoms appear and could save thousands of lives every year.

Doctors believe blood tests will revolutionise cancer prevention by offering cheaper and less invasive screening techniques.

The Southampton University research team is looking at blood samples collected by a GP from 11,000 Guernsey women over the last 30 years. Some of the women later developed-cancer, making their records especially valuable. The researchers looked for ‘ biomarkers’ – proteins produced by cancer cells.

Paul Townsend, who is leading the study, said: “Already we have seen significant bio-markers of breast cancer in the samples. The quality of the samples we have from Guernsey has been the key but it is early days.’

He adds: “of the ladies in the samples were healthy at the time but then went on to develop cancer. We are going back through these time capsules to look for things common in their blood that we can identify as a cancer fingerprint. We are trying to find out if we can take a sample from someone that is healthy and see if they could get cancer in the future.

‘We would like to establish a set of rules that we could look for.

‘It is early days in terms of our research but it’s looking very encouraging at the moment. ‘There’s a lot more work to be done but I’m hopeful we could have something in terms of a basic theory quite soon.’