New blood tests are being used in some cancer diagnoses.

To mark World Cancer Day on February 4, we've taken a look at recent discoveries made in terms of detection and treatment.

A diagnostic blood test

A new type of blood test called ISET (Isolation by Size of Tumor cells) could revolutionize cancer diagnosis. Developed by the French cancer specialist Patrizia Paterlini-Bréchot, this test detects the presence of tumor cells in a blood sample. Medical imaging is then required to find the exact location of the tumor. In the future, it is expected to be possible to say from which organ the cancerous cells originate, thereby saving time. In France the test has recently come onto the market at a price of 486 euros.

New information about lung cancer treatment

A blood test could also tell us how lung cancer patients will respond to treatment, according to a study published in Nature. By analyzing tumor cells from liquid biopsies, the researchers discovered that patterns of genetic faults measured before treatment were linked to how well a patient might respond to chemotherapy.

Identifying skin cancer with a photo

It looks like in the near future, we will be able to detect skin cancer by taking a photo. Researchers at Stanford University have developed an algorithm to diagnose skin cancer using a database of 129,000 images representing around 2,000 skin diseases. The device used was able to distinguish malignant from benign lesions, giving the same diagnoses as 21 board-certified dermatologists.

MRI more effective in prostate cancer diagnosis

The current practice of taking a biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer can have unpleasant side effects such as infections. Diagnosis using a multi-parametric MRI scan has proved to be more effective, according to a study published in The Lancet, by providing information on a cancer's size, density, and proximity to the bloodstream. This information can help to distinguish aggressive cancer requiring an immediate biopsy from relatively benign tumors.