Doctors would be able to diagnose blood cancer from blood itself and that too five years before. American researchers have found out that changes in immune system can tell us a lot about growing brain tumour five years before the symptoms of the life-threatening symptoms actually surface. The interactions among proteins that transfer information from immune cell to another are compromised in the blood of a brain cancer patients five years before the diagnosis of cancer. This research was carried out by Judith Schwartbaum from Ohio State University and his team.
This breakthrough in medical sciences can lead to earlier diagnosis of brain cancer which can make the treatment a lot easier. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE, focused on gliomas, which make up about 80 percent of brain cancer diagnoses. Average survival time for the most common type of glioma is 14 months.
Symptoms include headaches, memory loss, personality changes, blurred vision and difficulty in speaking. Usually, the cancer is diagnosed three months after the symptoms become visible and when the tumours are typically advanced.
"It's important to identify the early stages of tumor development if we hope to intervene more effectively," Schwartzbaum said.
This research can pave the way for novel techniques to diagnose brain cancer earlier and allow a more efficient treatment. The researchers evaluated blood samples from 974 people, half of whom went on to receive a brain-cancer diagnosis in the years after their blood was drawn. They studied 277 cytokines in the blood samples and found less cytokine interaction in the blood of people who developed cancer.
"There was a clear weakening of those interactions in the group who developed brain cancer and it's possible this plays a role in tumor growth and development," Schwartzbaum stated.
Cytokine activity in cancer is especially important to understand because it can play a good-guy role in terms of fighting tumor development, but it also can play a villain and support a tumor by suppressing the immune system, she said.
In addition to discovering the weakening of cytokine interactions in the blood of future cancer patients, the researchers found a handful of cytokines that appear to play an especially important role in glioma development.
"It's possible this could also happen with other tumors - that this is a general sign of tumor development," she noted.