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May 19, 2022

Swansea University develops blood test for early diagnosis of bowel cancer

The test identified around 79% of early-stage bowel cancers in a primary care trial.

A team of researchers from Swansea University in Wales has developed a new blood test that can detect bowel cancer earlier.

The Raman Spectrometry (RS) blood test delivered promising results in a primary care trial. It identified around 79% of early-stage bowel cancers and 100% of advanced bowel cancers in a study that involved 27 practices and 595 patients across West Wales.

Initial data indicated that the blood test has greater sensitivity for the detection of bowel cancer compared to other similar tests currently available in primary care.

The development of the RS blood test was funded by Cancer Research Wales along with Health and Care Research Wales.

A Welsh start-up business, CanSense, has now secured support from Life Sciences Hub Wales and an additional £1.2m commitment from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to further develop the technology, which would facilitate the clinical adoption of the test across Wales.

The start-up will seek to deliver a test that will offer results in 48 hours.

It is expected that the introduction of the test will reduce diagnosis wait times, eliminate the need for unnecessary invasive procedures, such as colonoscopies, and reduce pressure on the NHS.

CanSense co-founder and director Dr Cerys Jenkins said: “The goal for this research has always been to translate it into something that fits into the existing patient pathway.

“Having this test available at the triage stage would save time, money, but most importantly save the patients from anxiety and unnecessary diagnostic tests.”

Every year, 2,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Wales, with most diagnoses occurring at an advanced stage. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in Wales.

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