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New blood test could detect cancer before symptoms show

Can a blood test alert doctors that you have a cancerous tumor before you have symptoms?

NEW ORLEANS -- Scientists at Stage 1 Diagnostics in Little Rock, Arkansas developed an inexpensive test that looks for high blood levels of a protein called hepsin, already shown to be high in prostate cancer tumors.

"Not only is this test going to allow people early detection, but it will also allow them a better insight into the makeup of the tumor and potential for the tumor to become metastatic, which is the most lethal form of cancer," said Dr. Blake Johnson, the lead scientist at Stage 1 Diagnostics. He is also assistant professor of biology in the Patterson School of Natural Sciences at Ouachita Baptist University.

"We've seen it work in lots of tumor types, but prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, breast, ovarian, those are the main ones that have been looked at," said Dr. Brent Staggs, a Pathologist at Baptist Health.

The head of genetics and precision medicine at LSU Health says the test is promising, but he wants to see firm guidelines for doctors to follow when diagnosing patients.

"What I'd like to see, before trying to make a clinical decision based on a test, I'd like to see a clinical trial where this test is compared to what's called a golden standard for that particular disease," explained Dr. Lucio Miele. He is also a Cancer Crusaders Professor and Chairman of the Precision Medicine Program.

The company biologists and CEO recommend this new test be a part of your comprehensive medical work up. If the first test is high, retest in three months and include that with your medical and family history.

Dr. Miele says if further studies show the blood test has high accuracy for finding and pinpointing the location of early cancer, patients will benefit.

"Early diagnosis of cancer is in fact the best way to fight cancer, and cancers that are diagnosed early are in many cases curable," Dr. Miele said.

For doctors and patients interested in the test, beginning in April, there will be a link on the Baptist Health of Arkansas website.

For more on the company that developed the test, visit their website here.

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