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Scientists present clinical evidence to detect clusters of cancer cells

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The test makes cancer screening easier, efficient and affordable, and can potentially be a breakthrough in cancer detection and diagnosis

A new study by scientists from India, the US, and the UK has presented clinical evidence for an innovative test that can detect clusters of cancer cells in the blood of asymptomatic individuals as a non-invasive screening and diagnostic method. The test makes cancer screening easier, efficient and affordable, and can potentially be a breakthrough in cancer detection and diagnosis. The test will soon be available commercially.

Commenting on the study, principal author Dr Dadasaheb Akolkar, Research Director, Datar Cancer Genetics, said, “This is the first study of its kind to investigate the prevalence of circulating tumour emboli or C-ETACs (Circulating Ensembles of Tumour Associated Cells) in over 16,000 participants, to establish the definitive new systemic hallmark of cancer. The technique we have used is a breakthrough innovation. When clusters of cells break off from an early stage tumour and enter the bloodstream, we can efficiently and accurately isolate a few hundred malignant cells from more than 100 million cells, using just 10 ml of blood. While almost all cancer samples had these cell clusters, they were seen in very few of the samples which were apparently without cancer.”

Speaking on the breakthrough study and technique, Rajan Datar, Chairman and Managing Director, Datar Cancer Genetics, said, “Cancer is rapidly becoming a civilisational challenge. Importantly, cancer deaths are mainly because of late detection. We believe that this innovative blood-based test is a breakthrough in cancer screening and will impact outcomes through easy, patient-friendly detection and diagnosis in apparently healthy people who may have a silent malignancy in their bodies! It has the potential to eliminate the need for invasive biopsies and the risks associated with it. In the near future, a simple, inexpensive blood test that could be all that is required to reliably detect and diagnose cancer, even before any symptoms are seen.”

The study involved 16,134 participants, including 5,509 patients with cancer (TrueBlood study) and 10,625 individuals with no symptoms (RESOLUTE study) and the test has shown an accuracy of more than 94 per cent. The C-ETACs were seen in 89.8 per cent of cancer cases and in only 3 per cent of apparently healthy, asymptomatic individuals who had no abnormal findings in presently used screening tests.

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