"Now, as the NHS marks its 70th anniversary, we stand on the cusp of a new era of personalised medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases", said Stevens.
A trial of around 1,600 people found the non-invasive procedure to identify DNA markers works with up to 90% accuracy, the authors said.
"Detecting cancer early, before it has spread is one of the most powerful ways to ensure more people are offered treatments which give them a better chance of beating the disease", said Fiona Osgun of Cancer Research UK, who was not part of the study.
He said: "Many cancers are picked up too late". For example, although the test detected ovarian cancer with 90% accuracy, only 10 ovarian cancers in total were detected.
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For several different cancers, the new blood test was able to accurately detect the disease in over 80 percent of affected patients. Lung cancer was correctly detected in 59% of patients, while head and neck cancer was detected in 56% of patients.
"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure", said Dr Eric Klein, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute. Klein and his fellow researchers plan on presenting their findings to the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
The liquid biopsy uses three tests to search for DNA signatures in a patient's blood that indicate the presence of various types of cancer. They'd also need more test subjects, as the sample sizes were on the small side for a study of this type. So far, it has proven particularly capable of detecting ovarian and pancreatic cancer, both of which have significantly lower mortality rates when caught early enough to perform surgery as a means of removing the cancer.
The wonder-test could be in use in just a few years time but comes with a hefty price tag.
The universal screening test is known as a liquid biopsy as it takes a blood sample from the patient as opposed to a tissue sample. Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed when the cancer is too advanced to be operated on, said Dr. Chris Abbosh, a clinical research associate at University College London's Cancer Institute. "It could be given to healthy adults of a certain age, such as those over 40, to see if they have early signs of cancer"..
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