A NEW blood-based test is the first ever to simultaneously identify if a patient has cancer and if it has spread.

The University of Oxford study, published in scientific journal Clinical Cancer Research, outlines a new type of blood test which can detect a range of cancers and whether they have spread.

The test, described as inexpensive, uses NMR metabolomics technology, with 300 patient samples used in the study.

Researchers assessed whether the test could distinguish patients with a range of solid tumours from those without cancer.

Results show that cancer was correctly detected in 19 out of every 20 patients.

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Dr Fay Probert, lead researcher of the study, said: “This work describes a new way of identifying cancer.

“The goal is to produce a test for cancer that any GP can request.

“We envisage that metabolomic analysis of the blood will allow accurate, timely and cost-effective triaging of patients with suspected cancer, and could allow better prioritisation of patients based on the additional early information this test provides on their disease.”

Unlike many blood-based tests for cancer, the test uses NMR metabolomics, which uses high magnetic fields and radio waves to profile levels of natural chemicals, or metabolites, in the blood.

Dr James Larkin, researcher on the study, said: “We are only now starting to understand how metabolites produced by tumours can be used as biomarkers to accurately detect cancer.

“We have already demonstrated that this technology can successfully identify if patients with multiple sclerosis are progressing to the later stages of disease, even before trained clinicians could tell.”