In the journals
A groundbreaking blood test might someday help people with troubling, unexplained symptoms determine if they have cancer. Researchers used a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics to analyze blood samples from 300 people who had common signs of possible cancer, such as sudden weight loss, frequent fatigue, constant nausea, and new pain.
Unlike conventional blood-based cancer tests, which look for genetic material from tumors, the NMR technique looks for levels of small molecules in the blood called metabolites. According to the researchers, cancer cells have different metabolomic "fingerprints" compared with healthy cells. Today, adults with symptoms suggestive of cancer often undergo multiple CT scans. But scans can miss cancers, and they may show noncancerous spots as problematic, requiring invasive biopsies to check for cancer. A blood test to better identify which patients need CT scanning versus those who might pursue other causes of their symptoms would be a terrific advance.
The technique needs further testing with larger groups to define when it might be most useful to identify cancer earlier in people with worrisome symptoms. The results were published online Jan. 4, 2022, by Clinical Cancer Research.
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