Noninvasive testing can detect early stage cancer

8 June 2015

A new study has shown that a non-invasive test carried out during pregnancy can help detect early stage cancer in mothers.

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is increasingly used to test for chromosomal foetal disorders, which can pick up conditions such as Down's syndrome. It analyses DNA from the foetus in the mother's blood and, therefore, does not carry the same risk of miscarriage as more invasive testing methods. 

For the first time, researchers have found that NIPT could also detect maternal cancers at an early stage before symptoms appear. 

Presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology, the study used the newly adapted test on 6,000 pregnancies.

Dr Nathalie Brison, a senior scientist in the Clinical Cytogenetics laboratory at the Centre for Human Genetics, said the research set out to increase the accuracy of the NIPT test to overcome some of the technical problems that can cause it to come up with inaccurate results when screening for chromosomal disorders in the foetus.

During tests, the team found three different genomic abnormalities in three women, which  resembled those found in cancer. They were then referred to an oncology unit and were diagnosed with three different early-stage cancers in the women.

Posted by Phillip Briggs

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