Living Well: Blood test developed in Arkansas detects cancer early

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The more cancer spreads, the harder it is to treat.

That’s why early detection and diagnosis is key for treatment strategies.

A new blood test developed by a team in Arkansas can detect the earliest stages of cancer.

“This sort of research and development takes years,” explains Dr. Blake Johnson, Navaux Chief Scientific Officer.

The test is bringing in people from all around the nation.

“We’ll run 40 or 50 tests on a given week right now,” says Brent Staggs, Pathologist.

The test is called Hepsin. With a simple blood draw, scientists have discovered a way to measure the levels of certain aggressive cancer-causing proteins.

“We’re looking again for a protein called hepsin in the blood. The levels are indicative of the presence of a tumor and its ability to become more aggressive,” continues Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson, with Navaux, rolled out the Hepsin test last year.

Although fairly new, it’s already helping many Arkansans.

Baptist Health is the only hospital that offers it.

The number of tests have doubled month over month.

“It’s applicable to all types of cancers. It’s not just one type of cancer that we’re looking for. That’s the neat thing about this test,” adds Staggs.

That includes prostate, breast and endometrial cancer, just to name a few.

The test is offered to anyone, especially those who have a family history of cancer.

The results come in within two days.

“Using this test, we hope to not only provide better clinical outcomes but also better quality of life and hopefully a better cure rate,” Dr. Johnson says.

There are other tests, but this is the only one that looks for hepsin.

“So, to be able to have a blood test, that’s where everything is going to be minimally invasive, try to do much off the blood as much as we can,” says Staggs.

With advancing technology, doctors hope this empowers the patient to become an advocate themselves.

Doctors say tests like this can cost hundreds of dollars. The Hepsin test costs 99 dollars.

Click here to learn more.

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