Simple Blood Test May Be Able To Detect Cancer Sooner Than Ever

Monday, January 3rd 2011, 11:02 pm
By: News 9

Rusty Surette, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- According to new research, doctors said a simple blood test now takes the guessing game out of detecting Oklahoma's second leading cause of death-- cancer.

Mike Ratliff was told he had cancer several years ago.

"It's a big tumor and so it was bulging. My stomach was bulging," Ratliff said.

Ratliff, an Oklahoma storm chaser, survived a rare cancer and said the surgeries that saved his life were worse than any storm he's ever faced.

"They went inside through my abdomen. So they made an incision from one side to the other side, went in, moved my stomach over, took the tumor out and sewed me back up," Ratliff said.

Ratliff said it was a painful but necessary surgery. However, it may be one that could be less complicated for future cancer patients. At least that's the news from scientists in Boston who announced they're teaming up with Johnson & Johnson to bring a new cancer test to the market-- one that may be able to find cancer quicker and easier.

"It will give us a non-invasive, or a non-painful way of monitoring a cancer, following a cancer day-to-day, week-to-week, without having to do repeat biopsies," said Dr. Daniel Haber, Director, MGH Cancer Center.

Researchers said it will only take a small amount of blood to recognize a single cancer cell among a billion healthy ones. The technology may finally allow them to detect the cancer before it ever shows up on scans and doctors will be able to find out sooner if the treatments they're giving patients are doing more harm than good.

"It would be most helpful for patients with prostate, bladder, colon, kidney and lung cancer, in addition to breast cancers. In many ways, it serves as a liquid biopsy," said Dr. Christopher Logothetis, Anderson Cancer Center.

The down side to the new test is that there are only four sites across the country using them. That does include the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. However, if all goes well, the test is expected to become widely available in three to five years.

The four hospitals that are currently using the tests will split a $15 million grant to pay for that research.