London – Doctors could pick up signs of a brain tumour earlier thanks to a new blood test.
The tumours often produce ambiguous symptoms, such as headaches or memory problems, and a scan had been the only reliable way to spot them.
A brain tumor is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in your brain.
Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). When benign or malignant tumors grow, they can cause the pressure inside your skull to increase. This can cause brain damage, and it can be life-threatening.
Now a blood test can detect chemical clues shed by brain tumours into the blood, making diagnosis quicker and more efficient. Researchers said the same technique has the potential to be adapted to other types of cancer.
In tests, they were able to correctly identify more than four in five brain tumours.
Dr Matthew Baker of the University of Strathclyde worked on the study and said: “These results are extremely promising because they suggest that our technique can accurately spot who is most likely to have a brain tumour and who probably does not.
“Because the technique requires just a small blood sample, if offers the potential to test a large number of people with suspicious symptoms.”
The next step will be to try out the test with 600 more patients referred for a brain scan via a GP or casualty unit.
Headaches are a common symptom of a brain tumour. You may experience headaches that: are worse in the morning when waking up, occur while you’re sleeping and are made worse by coughing, sneezing, or exercise.
Early treatment can prevent complications that can occur as a tumor grows and puts pressure on the skull and brain tissue. See your doctor if you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing.