In the UK there are 300,000 cancer diagnoses each year, and a quarter of all deaths are cancer related. Early diagnosis saves lives – 90% of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer survive for at least five years. However, current diagnostic tests such as mammography have limited efficacy, and over-diagnosis results in unnecessary treatments and a waste of resources. For other cancer types, such as ovarian, current tests are inadequate for early diagnosis. As such, there is a need for improved diagnostic tests.
Cancer cells ‘distract and educate’ the immune system to promote their own growth. Our researchers have utilised this phenomenon to identify aa 13-gene signature for breast cancer. A simple, blood-based diagnostic test is being developed to determine the presence of this signature, and therefore diagnose breast cancer more effectively than existing methods. Similar gene signatures for other cancers are also being identified.
The diagnostic detected breast cancer in a test set with 92.54% accuracy, 94% specificity and 91.79% sensitivity. Similar results are seen in test groups with different ethnic compositions, indicating the test to be robust. By comparison, mammography has 78% accuracy and 84% sensitivity.