Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
An increasing number of cancer patients are finding a cure thanks to innovative diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, especially if the disease is detected early.
“The reality is exceeding our expectations,” say eminent Greek scientists participating in the 4th Diaspora Oncology Conference in Athens, while in the not-too-distant future, the majority of oncologists’ interventions will be performed prior to surgery, and some cancers may not even require surgery.
“For the breast, there is mammography, for the lung there is PET/CT [positron emission tomography and CT], for the colon there is colonoscopy. For other cancers we do not have corresponding diagnostic tools – i.e. screening tests,” said Nickolas Papadopoulos, professor of oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“We started by posing a question and at the same time a great scientific challenge: How could we diagnose cancerous tumors in time at an early stage in the general population – i.e. in people who had no heredity, who had no symptoms, who did not know they had cancer – before their tumors metastasized?” Papadopoulos told Kathimerini.
Thus began a long and laborious research path for him and his colleagues that led to the development of CancerSEEK, initially for the diagnosis of eight cancers – lung, breast, pancreatic, colon, ovarian, liver, stomach and esophageal – that account for more than 60% of deaths.
The test analyzes DNA circulating in the blood to detect the presence or absence of mutations in 16 genes and eight proteins connected to cancer. In 2020, his team accomplished another significant milestone when they conducted the first clinical research involving 10,000 volunteers and released overwhelmingly positive results, providing the prospect of detecting 50 different forms of cancer at an early stage.
Presently, two companies in the US are preparing to launch the test on the domestic market, but for its creator, its sensitivity needs to be further evaluated in future studies to minimize the chances of misdiagnosis.