Blood Test Could Lead To Earlier Brain Tumour Diagnosis

Researchers at the University of Bristol are developing a new blood test that could detect brain tumours at an earlier stage, the BBC reports. The test could be carried out at a GP surgery, avoiding the need for a patient to be transferred to a waiting list to see a consultant. 

The earlier a brain tumour is detected, the more effective and specific the treatment plan can be. The test will use mathematical models to examine and compare biomarkers for the most common types of brain tumour found in adults. 

Dr Johanna Blee said: “We are hopeful this research will ultimately aid the development of a simple blood test for brain tumours. Our findings provide the basis for further clinical data on the impact of lowering the current detection threshold, to allow earlier detection of GBMs using blood tests.” 

She added: “We have also demonstrated how our models can be combined with other diagnostics such as scans to enhance clinical insight with a view to developing more personalised and effective treatments.” 

The earlier a brain tumour is diagnosed, the more chance the patient has of being successfully treated. Biomarkers, or biological markers, are indicators such as a gene or molecule in the body that can be measured by clinicians to provide useful data.

For example, they can help determine what kind of tumour it is, and give a prediction about how fast it will grow. Medics may also use the test to determine which kind of treatment will be most effective. 

Research into biomarkers is still in the relatively early stages, and currently not all hospitals offer the tests. They do not always provide 100% reliable results, but they are useful for making a prognosis, and to help medics tailor a treatment plan that is most appropriate for the patient.

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