New blood test can identify 50 types of cancer, study shows

A new blood test can detect more than 50 types of cancer, a new study found.

The new blood test is being evaluated in a multisite clinical trial. The study results, recently published in the Annals of Oncology, are based on blood samples from 6,689 clinical trial participants — 2,482 with previously untreated cancer and 4,207 without cancer. More than 50 types of cancer were included in the study.

The blood test identifies DNA that cancerous tumors shed into the blood, contributing to cell-free DNA, and analyzes chemical changes to the DNA, called methylation. Find more information on how the blood test works here.

The study shows that the test's specificity was 99.3 percent, meaning the test has a 0.7 percent false positive rate. This means that less than 1 percent of people who use the test would be inaccurately identified as having cancer. Specificity is the ability of a test to designate an individual who does not have a disease as negative, according to the New York State Health Department.

When the test detected cancer, it identified its location in the body with 93 percent accuracy.

Researchers are continuing to study the test in large studies in the U.S. and the U.K.


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