Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size
A
A
A

Blood, Urine Test May Detect Cancer

By
WebMD Health News

March 16, 2000 (Atlanta) -- Forget scalpels and needles: A new test to detect cancer would require only a few drops of blood or perhaps urine. The test, still in the early stages of development, would be based on unexpected new findings published in the March 17 issue of the journal Science.

Studies already are planned to see whether the test accurately predicts cancer. If it does, they could be available to physicians very soon. "We are enthusiastic," study author David Sidransky, MD, tells WebMD.

Because a cell's genetic machinery goes haywire when it becomes cancerous, most researchers trying to unlock the secrets of cancer are looking at the very center of the tumor cell -- the nucleus -- where the cell's genetic material is found. Sidransky's team at Johns Hopkins University looked somewhere else: at the mysterious energy-producing particles within the cell, known as mitochondria.

Previous studies have shown that certain particles in the mitochondria of tumor cells have been altered or mutated. Sidransky's team found that tumor cells release these altered particles, called mtDNA, and release them in large amounts in bladder, head/neck, and lung tumors. The mtDNA could be detected in the blood or urine indicating bladder, head/neck, or lung cancer.

The most accurate way to test for cancer would be for people to have their mtDNA analyzed while they are still healthy, at age 40 or 45. Routine, annual tests then could quickly detect mtDNA.

"The test would probably work for any [cancer], possibly even lymphomas," says Sidransky, who is a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But the biggest problems -- breast, lung, colon, prostate cancer -- those are the ones we hope this test might be useful for."

A mitochondria expert Michael D. Brown, PhD, tells WebMD that the mtDNA test still has a major hurdle to overcome: It not only must detect mtDNA associated with cancer, but it must be able to show that when it does detect mtDNA mutations it means the patient has cancer and not some other problem. But Brown, a researcher in the Emory University Center for Molecular Medicine, says that the technology needed to create an mtDNA test already is available.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
 
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
 
Prostate Enlarged
VIDEO
Picture Of The Prostate
ANATOMY
 
Prostate Cancer Quiz
QUIZ
screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
 
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
VIDEO
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW