Study identifies 618 proteins linked to 19 types of cancer, which could lead to much earlier detection

Proteins in the blood could warn people of cancer more than seven years before it is diagnosed, according to research.

Scientists at the University of Oxford studied blood samples from more than 44,000 people in the UK Biobank, including over 4,900 people who subsequently had a cancer diagnosis.

They compared the proteins of people who did and did not go on to be diagnosed with cancer and identified 618 proteins linked to 19 types of cancer, including colon, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature Communications, also found 107 proteins associated with cancers diagnosed more than seven years after the patient’s blood sample was collected and 182 proteins that were strongly associated with a cancer diagnosis within three years.

​The authors concluded that some of these proteins could be used to detect cancer much earlier and potentially provide new treatment options, though further research was needed.​