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Early testing of new blood cancer screening shows some promise

A robot processes samples for evaluation from the blood-based CancerSEEK test
A robot processes samples for evaluation from the blood-based CancerSEEK test. Photo: Fred Dubs / Johns Hopkins Medical Pathology

Scientists announced Thursday in the journal Science that they've developed a highly specific blood test that screens for 8 common cancer types, helps identify the location of the cancer, and is expected to cost about $500.

Why it matters: The research community is searching for a non-invasive way to screen for cancer but has faced huge problems of high costs and false positives — which can cause a patient unnecessary testing and anxiety.

Yes, but: The study was conducted in a relatively small number of cancer patients. Some scientists believe the high specificity and sensitivity rates of the CancerSEEK test may drop in a larger patient group and say they will be watching the results from a larger trial expected in about 18 months.