Medical products giant Johnson & Johnson is planning to announce today that they, together with researchers in Boston, are planning on marketing a test so sensitive that it can detect the presence of just one cancer cell among a billion normal cells. Four large cancer research centers are planning on beginning studies to assess the usefulness and accuracy of the test and will be using it on an experimental basis this coming year.
According to many doctors, having a stray cancer cell lurking in your blood is an indication that the tumor that you already have, but which has gone un-diagnosed until now, has spread or is getting ready to spread. Doctors believe that having such a test on hand can dramatically alter the way care is delivered to patients. A large number of cancer types, including breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers can be detected with this new test .
Dr. Daniel Haber, the chief of the cancer center at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the inventors of the test explained its usefulness. “This is like a liquid biopsy which avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans.”