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Easy Cancer Test Takes Just 10 Minutes

It could help as a quick and cheap approach
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2018 3:00 PM CST
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Worried you have cancer? One day you may take a 10-minute test with a touted 90% success rate—though some experts are raising doubts, the Guardian reports. Devised in Australia, the test uses a color-changing liquid and a new cancer-detection approach that could help people pre-screen before having more thorough tests. "A major advantage of this technique is that it is very cheap and extremely simple to do, so it could be adopted in the clinic quite easily," says study co-author Laura Carrascosa. The test is simple: A patient's DNA is placed in water containing gold nanoparticles. DNA from cancer cells will cling to the gold, making the water's color stay pink; if the cells are healthy, they bind differently and make the water turn blue, per the Smithsonian.

"We certainly don't know yet whether it's the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting" and doesn't require a biopsy or complicated equipment, says team leader Matt Trau. Sadly, it can't spot the size or location of a tumor, and its "90% success rate" is furrowing at least one brow: "What if you had cancer and you were one of the 10% whose true cancer was not detected?" writes Gary Schwitzer at Health News Review. A California doctor tells USA Today he's concerned whether the test will trigger false positives, since cancer is actually uncommon. Other "simple" tests have emerged lately, including one that detects up to 10 cancer types and another that can spot eight kinds of cancer before symptoms emerge, reports MarketWatch. The Australian test is in early development and won't be out anytime soon. (Read more cancer stories.)

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