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New test would use DNA to find brain tumors, cancer

It’s being called a major breakthrough in the fight against cancer. Researchers have developed a blood test that can detect brain tumors early, but that’s not the only thing this new test can do.

Brain cancer: Two words no one ever wants to hear, but for those who do, “Remarkable resilience is something that we see in lots of patients and their families,” said Dr. Duane Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurosurgery at the University of Florida.

That mentality helped solidify Mitchell’s drive to improve brain cancer patients’ lives through research.

“I think there’s a critical need. Even though these are not the most common cancers, they can be some of the most devastating.”

Mitchell said progress against the disease has been slow.

“We don’t really have really great, effective and routine screening tools right now.”

But finally, a breakthrough. Scientists at Massachusetts General have come up with a blood test they say diagnoses and monitors brain tumors faster, easier and cheaper than current methods.

Now, instead of relying on MRIs or biopsying new tissue samples, the doctors say all you have to do is test a patient’s blood for tumor DNA.

“We really need approaches that are not invasive, won’t endanger, put the patients at risk to be able to routinely monitor tumor growth,” Mitchell said.

He said the blood tests show great promise and he looks forward to more studies. “Optimism in the face of adversity.”

The Mass General team hopes to expand this blood test to be able to differentiate many types of brain tumors.

RELATED: American Brain Tumor Association

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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