A study conducted by University of California San Diego reported that a new blood test is able to detect liver cancer at an earlier stage, which can be crucial to increase the survival time of the patients. The study was conducted on 1,098 liver cancer patients and is deemed to be efficient because it is easy to perform a blood test.
The test works by looking for methylation, a process responsible for changes in gene activity. It looks for differences on the DNA molecules, the methyl groups, which control the genetic activity. Since methylation doesn’t change the DNA sequence, any recorded changes would be a mutation that leads to cancer. In order to become a cancer, the gene was to turn on or off another gene, and the process is done by methylation.
The study is extremely important since detecting liver cancer at an earlier stage can help during the treatment since the cancer is not spread yet. A study shows that when the cancer is only in the liver the patients has a 31.1 percent five-year survival rate, when the cancer spreads to organs near the liver the same percentage drops to 10.7 percent. And if the cancer spread to numerous regions the patient then has a survival rate of only 2.8 percent.
There are already blood tests for the liver by they can fail to detect the cancer since their target is not that specific. The AUC score for this test is 0.816 while the new blood test achieved a score of 0.969 being superior since its closer to 1, the ideal score.
The director of the Institute of Genomic Medicine, Zhang, reported that they plan to perform more blood tests to detect cancer including lungs, breast and colon cancer. Liver cancer is commonly found on Americans of Asia and people with Hispanic ancestry. By conducting the blood test the cancer can also be predicted therefore helping the recovery of the patient.