What's exciting about the new development is that it can screen people for signs of cancer years before they show symptoms of the disease.
"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure, and we hope this test could save many lives", lead author Eric Klein, an oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic in OH, tells The Telegraph.
Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed when the cancer is too advanced to be operated on, said Dr. Chris Abbosh, a clinical research associate at University College London's Cancer Institute. "We need more and more and more samples" to determine the true accuracy of the test. The biopsy was reportedly most effective in detecting pancreatic, ovarian, liver, and gallbladder cancers, which are much more hard to treat if not diagnosed early. While it detected ovarian cancer with 90 percent success rate, for example, only 10 instances of this type of cancer were detected throughout the testing period. Lung cancer was correctly detected in 59% of patients, while head and neck cancer was detected in 56% of patients.
The test was used to detect genetic traces of multiple cancers, including pancreatic and ovarian diseases, according to the study.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service in England, said: "We stand on the cusp of a new era of personalized medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases".
The test was administered on 749 cancer-free patients and 878 with newly diagnosed but untreated cancer.
The goal is to develop a blood test, such as this one, that can accurately identify cancers in their earliest stages.
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It was 77% accurate in diagnosing lymphoma, 73% accurate for myeloma, and 80% accurate for liver and gallbladder cancers.
Researchers also found that more than half of patients in the study had mutations in their blood that came from white blood cells, and not tumors, requiring them to develop a method to screen those out to prevent false positives.
Grail's lung cancer data comes from a wider study that eventually aims to enroll 15,000 participants and cover 20 different types of cancers.
The research has only taken a first step in detecting cancer through blood tests, and it shows promise in the future of cancer screening.
However, it was less effective at detecting stomach, uterine and early-stage prostate cancer, the authors said.
"When this test, or another like it, are ready for clinical use, it could be used as part of a universal screening program, with the potential to save many lives".