A spectroscopic liquid biopsy for the earlier detection of multiple cancer types

Cameron, James, Sala, Alexandra, Antoniou, Georgios, Brennan, Paul, Butler, Holly, Conn, Justin, Connal, Siobhan, Curran, Tom, Hegarty, Mark et al (2023) A spectroscopic liquid biopsy for the earlier detection of multiple cancer types. British Journal of Cancer . ISSN 0007-0920

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-023-02423-7


A rapid, low-cost blood test that can be applied to reliably detect multiple different cancer types would be transformational. In this large-scale discovery study (n = 2092 patients) we applied the Dxcover® Cancer Liquid Biopsy to examine 8 different cancers. The test uses Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and machine learning algorithms to detect cancer. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) values were calculated for 8 cancer types v symptomatic non-cancer controls: brain (0.90), breast (0.76), colorectal (0.91), kidney (0.91), lung (0.91), ovarian (0.86), pancreatic (0.84) and prostate (0.86). We assessed the test performance when all 8 cancer types were pooled to classify ‘any cancer’ against non-cancer patients. The cancer v asymptomatic non-cancer classification detected 64% of stage I cancers when specificity was 99% (overall sensitivity 57%). When tuned for higher sensitivity, this model identified 99% of stage I cancers (with specificity 59%). This spectroscopic blood test can effectively detect early-stage disease and can be fine-tuned to maximize either sensitivity or specificity depending on the requirements from different healthcare systems and cancer diagnostic pathways. This low-cost strategy could facilitate the requisite earlier diagnosis, when cancer treatment can be more effective, or less toxic.

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