Research latest: blood test developed to diagnose cancer

Lung health

New research, led by Professor Eric Lim, consultant thoracic surgeon at Royal Brompton Hospital, could revolutionise the way that cancer is diagnosed in the future.

The pioneering test, which they believe will eventually be carried out in GP surgeries, will be able to provide rapid diagnosis and therefore increase the likelihood of earlier treatment for patients with cancer.

The study, presented at the annual World Conference on Lung Cancer in Colorado, shows that the test correctly identified cancer-specific gene mutations in the DNA of nearly 7 out of 10 patients.

Although the study focused on patients with primary or secondary lung cancer, researchers believe the test has the potential to be an effective diagnostic tool for a range of cancers and could be an alternative to biopsies in some cases, which can be time consuming and expensive.

Professor Lim said “The test is not an alternative to a biopsy for all patients, but when a blood test shows a positive result, this could mean a patient is saved from going through an unnecessary and invasive diagnostic procedure. It might also result in patients having earlier imaging scans and beginning treatment sooner.”  

Further research is needed to support the initial findings and before the test can be extended to the clinical setting.

Whilst it may be some time before the test is available, Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care currently offer a lung cancer risk assessment service with some of the UK’s leading specialists in respiratory medicine.


Professor Eric Lim 

Consultant thoracic surgeon