Researchers in the United Kingdom are making strides toward developing a single blood test that would aid in the early detection of cancer, Medical News Today reported.

In the study, presented Sunday at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool, U.K., researchers reviewed 19,000 scientific papers and identified more than 800 biomarkers in the blood of cancer patients.

Scientists worked to answer the question, "What biomarkers exist that could be used to develop a general cancer screening assay from blood sampling, and what is their state of development?"

“A single blood-based screening test would be a game changer for early detection of cancer, which could help make it a curable disease for many more patients,” said lead author Ian Cree, a pathology professor at the University of Warwick Medical School.

Cree said now that scientists have identified the relevant biomarkers, the next step is working out which ones are the strongest predictors of cancers. The evidence they have collected will help them “prepare for the next stage of the blood test development as it moves forward into clinical laboratory based tests.”

Cancer cells often start shedding blood markers long before many of the signs and symptoms of tumors begin to emerge. Thus, early diagnosis could lead to faster and more effective treatment, which in turn can improve survival rates.

“Our goal over the next 20 years is that three in four cancer patients will survive at least 10 years after their diagnosis,” said Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK.

Hiom called the study “an innovative and promising new approach.”

“And although in its early stages,” she added, “it shows how our increased understanding of cancers’ ‘markers’ and new technologies are combining to offer new opportunities to detect cancer sooner.”

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