Friday February 23, 2018

Research Yields Possible Blood Test for Cancer

The test was most successful with ovarian cancer, followed by liver, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers.

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Scientists have found a way of detecting cancer through blood tests. IANS
Scientists have found a way of detecting cancer through blood tests. IANS
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  • Scientists have developed a blood test which can detect cancer
  • This blood test can detect eight types of cancer
  • They have developed a way of detecting DNA which comes specifically from cancer

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) are reporting progress in developing a blood test to detect eight types of cancer at an early stage, including some of the most deadly ones that are difficult to detect with existing screening tools.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, JHU scientists examined how well their experimental test detected cancer in people already diagnosed with the disease.

Also Read : How broccoli can help keep colorectal cancer away 

This blood test can detect 8 types of cancers. Pixabay
This blood test can detect 8 types of cancers. Pixabay

In blood samples from more than 1,000 patients already diagnosed with cancer, the test detected the cancer in about 70 percent of the subjects.

Nikolas Papadopoulos, a professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, said the test is noninvasive.

“All [patients] have to do is give a little bit of blood,” he told VOA. “What we detect is DNA, which is the genetic material that is present in all of our cells, but we have developed a method to detect DNA that comes only from the cancer cells.”

Scientists have been focused on liquid biopsy tests which look for mutated DNA that floats freely in the blood and in cancer-related proteins to try to find cancer before it spreads. They focused on cancers for which there is little or no early-screening process — the ones that are often serious enough to be deadly by the time they are detected.

“That’s one of the tricks that cancer plays on us,” Papadopoulos said. “It grows inside of us and we feel fine until we start having something like a pain or a cough or something like that. And many times, it’s too late.”

Also Read : Alcohol can be linked with seven types of Cancer

This test detects DNA which is specifically formed due to cancer. sites.bu.edu
This test detects DNA which is specifically formed due to cancer. sites.bu.edu

The test was most successful with ovarian cancer, followed by liver, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers.

“This study that’s just published, it’s the first step,” Papadopoulos said.

He said a larger study is under way, with a pool of thousands of people. Unlike the earlier study, which dealt solely with patients already known to have cancer, the new group makes up a more representative sample of the general population — that is, most do not have cancer, at least not that has been diagnosed.

“The new study is different in that it simulates what is going to be the population that this test will be applied to,” he said. “And hopefully, we will get good results.” VOA

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Cigars, Pipes Tied To Same Risks As Cigarettes

Traditionally, doctors have asked just whether people smoked cigarettes, but they should instead be questioning patients more broadly about tobacco use

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E-cigarettes
E-cigarettes is considered to be safer than tobacco cigarettes. Pixabay
  • Cigarettes are not the only tobacco products which can cause death
  • Other tobacco products like cigars and pipes are just harmful
  • All these tobacco products can cause cancer

Cigarettes are not the only type of tobacco products that can lead to premature death or fatalities from smoking-related cancers, a U.S. study confirms.

While people who exclusively smoke cigarettes have twice the risk of premature death from all causes compared to people who avoid tobacco altogether, exclusive cigar smokers have a 20 percent higher risk of early death, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Cigarettes are not the only harmful tobacco products available in the market. Pixabay
Cigarettes are not the only harmful tobacco products available in the market. Pixabay

When it comes to fatalities from specific cancers that have been tied to tobacco use, cigarette smokers have four times the risk of people who never used tobacco, but cigar smokers are 61 percent more likely to die of these cancers and pipe users have 58 percent higher odds.

“We knew exclusive users of cigars and pipes were at greater risk of disease than people who do not use tobacco,” said lead study author Carol Christensen of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. “However, this study provides information that reflects today’s patterns of tobacco use.”

Also Read: Banning E-Cigarettes Deprives Indian Smokers of a Less Harmful Alternative: Experts

These data “underscore the importance of complete quitting,” Christensen said by email.

For the study, researchers examined nationally representative survey data, collected starting in 1985, from 357,420 participants who were followed through 2011.

Overall, 203,071 people, or about 57 percent, never used tobacco at all. Another 57,251 participants were current daily cigarette smokers, while 9,414 said they had a less frequent habit and 77,773 were former cigarette smokers.

In addition, 531 people were current daily cigar smokers, while 608 individuals used cigars less frequently and 2,398 had quit.

For pipes, 1,099 participants had a current daily habit, while 78 people used pipes less often and 5,237 had quit.

Pipes, hookahs and all other tobacco products are just as harmful as a cigarette. post-gazette.com
Pipes, hookahs and all other tobacco products are just as harmful as a cigarette. post-gazette.com

During the study period, 51,150 people died of all causes.

With a daily cigarette, cigar or pipe habit, people had an elevated risk of death from tobacco-related cancers including malignancies of the bladder, oesophagus, larynx, lung, mouth and throat, and pancreas.

Nondaily users

Even with a nondaily cigarette habit, people were more than six times more likely to die of lung cancer than individuals who never used tobacco. They also had more than seven times the risk of dying from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, more than four times the odds of death from oral cancers, and 43 percent higher odds of death from a circulatory system disorder.

Current cigar smokers had more than three times the odds of dying of lung cancer, and for current pipe smokers, the risk was 51 percent higher, compared with never-smokers.

The results were limited, however, by the relatively small numbers of cigar and pipe smokers in the sample, the authors noted.

Cigarettes, hookah, pipes, cigars all are equally harmful.
Cigarettes, hookah, pipes, cigars all are equally harmful.

Another limitation was that survey questions about tobacco use changed over time and didn’t determine how often nondaily smokers might have used cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

Even so, the results suggest that doctors may need to broaden how they discuss smoking with patients to make sure people understand they’re at risk even when they don’t have a daily habit, said Dr. Michael Ong of the University of California-Los Angeles and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Also Read:  Beware! Vapor smoke from E-cigarettes are just as harmful, says a new research

“Patients often do not associate the occasional use of cigar or pipes with health risks, but this study shows that current, particularly daily, cigar use is associated with increased overall risk of death,” Ong, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

Doctors also need to broaden their message about smoking and cigarettes to include other tobacco products that are becoming more popular, said Judith Prochaska, a researcher at Stanford University in California who wasn’t involved in the study.

e-cigarettes
Smoking e-cigarettes are not a healthier alternative to smoking. cigarettes Pixabay

Traditionally, doctors have asked just whether people smoked cigarettes, but they should instead be questioning patients more broadly about tobacco use, Prochaska said by email.

“The tobacco landscape has been changing dramatically,” Prochaska added. “While cigarettes remain the primary tobacco product used, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, hookah, and even pipe tobacco have seen gains in use, while cigarette use in the U.S. has been declining.” VOA