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Simple test for gut wrenching problem


A simple blood test could soon be used to detect stomach cancer, removing the need for invasive endoscopies, according to new research.

University of Adelaide researchers have discovered four proteins that change in concentration in the blood of stomach cancer patients.

The researchers looked at differences in protein levels between serum samples from 37 gastric cancer patients, including 11 early-stage patients, and controls which included healthy and non-cancerous patients with other gastric diseases.

They found four proteins – afamin, clusterin, haptoglobin and vitamin D binding protein – were individually superior to current clinical marker CA72-4 in discriminating stomach cancer from healthy controls.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Hoffman said stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world, and the second-leading cause of death due to cancer.

“Stomach cancer is typically without symptoms in the early stages, so most cancers are not diagnosed until the later stages and the survival rates are therefore low,” Associate Professor Hoffman said.

“Endoscopic investigations are invasive and expensive, and most are generally not conducted until the cancer is at an advanced stage.

“A non-invasive, inexpensive screening technique through a simple blood test for the early detection of stomach cancer would make a huge difference in the survival outcomes for people with this disease.”

The researchers are also investigating whether the biomarkers could be used to detect cancer in other parts of the gastrointestinal system, including the bowel and oesophagus.

The research was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta [2]

Kirsty Waterford