A simple blood test has been developed by scientists at Swansea University which can detect cancer long before any symptoms appear. This is a major breakthrough which could literally save thousands of lives.
The blood test has been dubbed a 'smoke test' because it detects the effects of cancer without actually detecting cancer itself, similar to the way smoke alarms detect house fires which detect the presence of smoke, without actually detecting the fire itself.
Researcher Professor Gareth Jenkins said: “A smoke detector does not detect the presence of fire in our homes but its by-product — smoke.
“This test detects cancer by detecting the ‘smoke’ — the mutated blood cells. The old adage of no smoke without fire also applies to ‘no cancer without mutation’.”
The test works by detecting mutations in the red blood cells which occur when cancer is present within the body. Missing "sticky" proteins on the surface of the red blood cells indicate mutations. Scientists then count them to determine whether it indicates an early sign of cancer.
The test could be used to detect cancer in those most at risk from developing tumours allowing the disease to be detected and treated much sooner. Detecting and treating cancer early can significantly increase survival rates. To date, the blood test has only been used on patients with cancer of the oesophagus but researchers believe that it should work to detect other cancer's too.
The trial was carried out on 300 volunteers with very encouraging results. As a result, scientists will now conduct a large scale study.
This is an excellent result in the fight against this horrendous disease. Time plays an important part in the treatment of cancer and this test in particular will definitely help catch the disease quicker, even before any symptoms develop.
I truly believe that anyone can help prevent cancer by living a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake and getting plenty of exercise. However it's useful to be aware of the warning signs which could help save your life. Here are five things that you should definitely look out for and not ignore:
- Any sudden weight loss when not dieting
- Blood in your faeces or urine
- Coughing up blood
- A lump in the breast, groin, testes, side of the neck or armpit
- Severe, unexplained pains or aches
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