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Results from a study of a blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer suggest that it is accurate enough to be used as a screening tool among people at higher risk of the disease, including those who are not symptomatic. In a paper published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology Friday, researchers reported that the test accurately detected cancer, often before any symptoms were present, and delivered a very low false-positive rate. The test also successfully predicted where in the body the cancer is located with a high degree of accuracy (88.7 per cent of cases) — a development researchers say can help doctors narrow down diagnostic testing and confirm a diagnosis sooner. “Finding cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful, is one of the most significant opportunities we have to reduce the burden of cancer,” Dr. Eric Klein, first author and chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said in a press release. The test, developed by U.S.-based company Grail, detects chemical changes in fragments of genetic code — known as cell-free DNA (cfDNA) — that leak from tumours and other cells into the bloodstream.

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