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Blood tests may spare cancer patients chemo, according to new research.
A study, published in the journal Nature, has found that a simple blood test can detect genetic mutations that indicate that a patient's cancer is likely to respond to chemotherapy.
The test, which is known as a liquid biopsy, works by analysing a patient's blood and detecting mutations in the DNA of cancer cells.
The research, carried out by a team from the University of Cambridge, suggests that the test could be used to rule out chemotherapy for some patients, saving them from the side effects.
The study found that the liquid biopsy detected mutations in more than 95% of cancer patients, compared to just 50-60% for traditional biopsy tests.
The researchers believe that the test could be used to inform decisions about whether to offer chemotherapy to cancer patients.
Lead researcher, Professor Laura Bell, said: “Our results suggest that liquid biopsies could help to identify patients who are likely to benefit from chemotherapy, while also sparing those who will not respond from unnecessary treatments.”
The findings could have a major impact on how chemotherapy is used to treat cancer, potentially allowing doctors to tailor treatments to individual patients and reduce the number of patients who are exposed to the side effects of chemotherapy.
The test is still in the early stages of development and further studies are needed to assess its accuracy and reliability. However, the research provides a promising insight into how liquid biopsies could be used in the future to help doctors make more informed decisions about the best treatment for cancer patients.