Crucial research into new ways of detecting and monitoring cancer is being led by Professor Jacqui Shaw at the University of Leicester, through the development of liquid biopsies or blood based tests.
Liquid biopsies, may help to detect cancer at an early stage, and see how well a patient is responding to their treatment. In addition, the tests may help provide a quicker diagnosis, potentially eliminating the need for invasive biopsy procedures. Professor Shaw's research team has shown that these blood tests can show when a cancer is coming back up to 2 years before scans.
The process involves conducting tests on a sample of blood to look for cancer cells that have escaped from a tumour and for pieces of DNA from tumour cells that are circulating in the blood and monitoring these over time.
Currently, research is underway for tests to detect and monitor the most common cancers including breast, bowel and lung cancer, and results of Professor Shaw’s latest study, which is looking at blood tests for detecting early breast cancer in about 3,000 women, are expected this year.