Finding Cancer With A Blood Test

When they’re still in the body, individual cells are impossible to see, let alone examine. That means the very beginnings of cancer—the time when a single cell goes rogue, replicating itself without restraint—cannot be detected by any instrument or test. Researchers are, however, continually working to push back the point when caner is detectable. That’s because early detection is the key to treatment, and often survival. Cancer becomes ore entrenched as it grows, getting larger and more entrenched and insinuating itself into the body’s vital systems. That means that the sooner cancer is found, the easier it is to fight, and the more thoroughly and completely it can be removed. In the early stages, cancer is localized, and removing it is easy, but it spreads throughout the body as it advances.

The body does try to fight back against cancer. It produces the immune cells called lymphocytes, including the fearsomely named "natural killer," or NK cells. NK cells are tumor fighters; unlike their fellow immune cells, NK cells can work in the absence of signs of infection. This means that these cells are well-suited to addressing tumors, which may not have any characteristics that draw the attention of immune cells looking for matter from outside the body. The NK cells seek out tumors and trigger a response that destroys the tumor cells. This response includes causing inflammation, which gets other types of immune cells to respond, leading to the tumor cells dying. Lymphocytes are created, and differentiated into types, in he bone marrow and released into the bloodstream.

These lymphocytes, researchers now ay, are the key to a new, early test or cancer. The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity test involves extracting lymphocytes from the blood, damaging them in a laboratory setting, and measuring how thorough the damage is. The more damage a cell shows—and they can be ready looked at under a microscope when removed from the body—the more sensitive the cell genome is, and this, the researchers found, is a sign of cancer. In fact, not only were the doctors able to detect cancer at an early stage, they were able to spot incipient cancer, or precancerous conditions, using this test. That means proper treatment can be put into place and meaningful preventative measures implemented earlier than ever before.

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