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Jewish scientist leads team developing simple test for eight common cancers

Joshua Cohen says his 'vision' is to make cancer diagnosis as easy as checking cholesterol levels

    The Jewish scientist who led a study into what could be a revolutionary new method of diagnosing cancer has said his “ultimate vision” is to develop a test that will make identifying the disease as easy as detecting high cholesterol.

    Joshua Cohen, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, headed the team that developed CancerSEEK, a test for eight types of cancer using a simple blood sample.

    The test registers levels of cancer proteins and checks for gene mutations. It can be used to diagnose lung, breast and colorectal cancers, which are responsible for over 60 per cent of deaths from the disease in the US. Five of the eight types of cancer currently have no screening test at all.

    Rather than an invasive procedure, the new test can be done via blood sample. And the cost of the test – around $500 – is around the same as a test for a single one of those cancers costs now.

    "Our ultimate vision is that a person goes to their primary care provider for a routine check-up and at the same time as testing their cholesterol, they have a screening to test for different types of cancer,” Mr Cohen told Forbes magazine.

    The initial trial has produced positive results, but much larger scale testing will still be needed before CancerSEEK can be made available to the general public.

    “The prospective study will answer the question, can this test detect cancer earlier than conventional methods,” said Mr Cohen.

    “At the same time as this, we will be working on improving and refining CancerSEEK."

    The ultimate goal is to detect cancer even earlier – well before a person first becomes aware of the symptoms – allowing for treatment at an earlier stage and increasing the likelihood of successful recovery.

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