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Simple Blood Test Could More Than Double Liver Cancer Detection Rate in High-Risk Population

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 Nov 2022
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Image: Liver cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide (Photo courtesy of Delfi Diagnostics)
Image: Liver cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide (Photo courtesy of Delfi Diagnostics)

The ravages of liver cancer are underappreciated in terms of their public health impact. The mortality rate from the disease has risen steadily over decades, making it the sixth leading cancer killer in the United States and the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Globally, the high-risk population of over 350 million individuals is growing due to increases in fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and chronic viral hepatitis infections. Meanwhile, despite data from randomized clinical trials demonstrating that early detection can reduce disease mortality, and longstanding recommendations that high risk individuals are regularly assessed, fewer than 20% of those eligible undergo screening either in the U.S. or overseas. Now, a new study has shown that a test which is easy to perform with a routine blood sample and relatively low cost could more than double the number of liver cancer cases detected in a high-risk population compared to today's standard of care – a mix of ultrasound imaging and protein tests that few patients receive.

Delfi Diagnostics’ (Baltimore, MD, USA) high-performance, accessible liquid biopsy platform has shown promise in a new tumor type. Delfi had previously announced that it is developing a low-cost, highly sensitive blood test for lung cancer screening. The new findings show how Delfi's platform could be applied in a second clinical context. Using the DELFI platform, researchers have demonstrated its ability to accurately detect liver cancer in a cohort of more than 700 individuals from the U.S., the European Union, and Hong Kong. The technology performed well even at the earliest stages of disease, and showed 88% sensitivity at 98% specificity in an average risk population.

"We are pleased to see promising early data in liver cancer, which is a cancer type with a significant unmet need and potential clinical utility," said Jenn Buechel, Delfi's Chief Operating Officer. "These data, combined with our previous promising data in lung cancer, provides an additional proof of concept for our technology platform across multiple cancer types."

"Like lung cancer, liver cancer is a disease with proven benefit from early detection, a large and well defined at-risk population, and a need for an early detection approach that is highly sensitive for early disease, affordable, and accessible - criteria the current approaches have not satisfied. We come to work in the hopes of tackling pressing global and U.S. public health challenges, so this disease, and these data, align with Delfi's criteria and mission," said Peter B. Bach, M.D., Delfi's Chief Medical Officer.

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