• Kyodo

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Researchers at Chiba University Hospital have developed a new method to detect early signs of cancer through a blood test.

The team, led by Takenori Ochiai, a professor of the second surgical department of the hospital, said it has found that cancer patients often have a certain antibody to the protein p53, which can easily reflect the genetic abnormalities of cancer cells.

Detecting early signs of cancer has been tricky, as X-ray and other conventional technologies aren’t effective when the disease is in an early stage.

Hideaki Shimada, a university hospital lecturer who played a central role in the research, said the finding may help reduce the cancer death rate in the future, when doctors can detect the early stages of cancer through a simple blood test.

The Chiba University Hospital team conducted the experiment by collecting blood samples from 1,085 cancer patients, including those in the early stages, at about 40 medical facilities across Japan. The team found many of the patients had an antibody that reacts with p53.

The team confirmed that the presence of the antibody can be used as a marker to determine if a person has a cancerous tumor.

The method can be effective in detecting cancer of the breast or lungs, as well as of the digestive system, stomach and colon, Shimada said.

The rate of diagnosis, however, differed depending on the type of cancer, according to the researchers.

Clinical tests showed that the antibody was positive among around 30 percent of throat and esophagus cancer patients, while it was positive above 20 percent among cervix and colon cancer patients, Shimada said.

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