Now getting tested for cancer at the doctor’s could be as simple as a little prick of the finger – and it could save your life up to ten years in advance, before symptoms even start to show.

A team of researchers at the Swansea University in Wales have discovered that they can now recognize when a patient will develop cancer because of a mutation that occurs in blood cells.

Using a simple test that tracks down the mutated cells, doctors can now detect the illness in someone’s blood stream even if won’t develop for years.

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Professor Gareth Jenkins, who led the study, said: “The test can be likened to a cancer smoke detector because a smoke detector does not detect the presence of fire in our homes but it’s by-product – smoke. This test detects cancer by detecting the ‘smoke’, the mutated blood cells. The old adage of no smoke without fire also applies to ‘no cancer without mutation’ as mutation is the driving force for cancer development.”

The figurative ‘smoke detector’ has so far only been used to look for cancer in the oesophagus, due to victims’ low survival rates from not recognizing symptoms in time for treatment, but researchers are confident that the test will work just as efficiently with other forms of the disease.

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The $46 test is currently undergoing trials of detecting pancreatic cancer, and researchers are predicting that the life-saving procedure could be available to the public in just 5 years.

Though the test is simple, cancer treatment is always more effective when initiated as soon as possible, making this easy procedure a discovery that could save thousands of lives.

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