A new way to screen for cancer

Blood testing to detect early cancer may be closer to reality than ever before.

Published: September, 2020

When it comes to most cancers, the sooner they're found, the better. "Identifying cancer in its earlier stages offers improved chances for treating it before it can grow and spread," says Dr. Brian Wolpin, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Unfortunately, there are not reliable tools to screen for most cancers. Examples of effective screening tests that do exist now include colonoscopies that look for polyps and early colorectal cancers, as well as imaging tests like mammograms for early signs of breast cancer and chest CT scans for localized lung cancer among former or current smokers.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »