Signs that predict you could develop cancer in the future

Cancer is the disease that worries the Spanish without any doubt. It is not for less, since more and more cases occur: according to the latest data from the Spanish Association against Cancer, in 2019 they were registered 275,562 new patients, 2.15% more than in 2017. The autonomous communities in which more cases occurred were Castilla y León and Asturias, with 722 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Thus, a timely detection is still vital in this type of diseases. Recently, what is considered the most complete study on genetics and cancer to date has been published. The 'Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes' study, published in the journal 'Nature', analyzed more than 2,500 tumors and 38 types of cancer to analyze what are the genetic mutations that cause healthy cells to become malignant. Thus, they concluded that these may occur years or even decades before the disease is diagnosed.

From now on, new diagnostic tests can be developed that detect these signs long before they appear.

"It's extraordinary how some of the genetic changes occur many years before diagnosis, even of the appearance of any sign that reveals the presence of cancer, and especially in apparently normal tissues or that were in good health, "he explains Clemence Jolly, co-author of the research and academic of the London Fracis Crick Institute, to 'The Guardian'.

For his part, his partner Peter Van Loo He said that thanks to this research, "from now on new diagnostic tests can be developed that detect these signs much earlier." In this sense, both see it as a great opportunity for the medicine of the future and to help reduce the incidence of this serious disease that reports more cases every day.

The objective is to anticipate the malignant mutation so that it does not happen and thus detect the disease even sooner.

Of course, this discovery does not mean that cancer can be detected in healthy people who have not yet had symptoms, but that It is aimed at improving the diagnosis of population groups at risk, attending individually to the peculiarities of each case. For example, smokers, who are obviously more likely to develop lung cancer. Thanks to this discovery, you can closely monitor its evolution and detect signs long before.

The study also revealed that approximately half of the first mutations occurred only in nine genes, which means that there is a relatively small genetic group that functions as a trigger for the disease. The objective is to anticipate the malignant mutation so that it does not happen and thus detect the disease even sooner.

We hope to create methods that indicate which cells are damaged in a scanner to kill them before they spread

In the future, scientists believe it might be possible to detect such mutations using so-called liquid biopsies, whose method is to perform genetic tests that detect DNA mutations It carries blood and can indicate the presence of tumors in different parts of the human body.

More reliable tests

Thanks to this, "you could try to identify these early mutations and do an in-depth scan of those patients who tested positive," says Van Loo to the British media. "In the future we hope to create methods that really point to the cells and make them light up on a scanner or simply kill them at once before they spread. we must recognize that it is very soon yet and this seems more like science fiction. "

Cells suffer all kinds of mutations and only a small number of them (called "conductive mutations") They give rise to cancer. "The great part of the work so far has been to encode parts of the genome," he explains. Lincoln Stein, Scientist from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. "That is only 1%. It's like trying to solve a puzzle of 100,000 pieces when 99% is missing and you don't have the box with the image to be built as a guide. "Hopefully the results are really useful to prevent and cure this terrible anomaly of the body that causes so many deaths a year.