Major Cancer Breakthrough Brewing At Baylor

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DALLAS(CBSDFW.COM) -A medical breakthrough discovered in North Texas.

Baylor Medical Center is working with a genetic research lab to diagnose cancer before a tumor even forms.

Blood tests can sometimes detect advanced cancers. But Baylor and an Arizona genetics lab have announced they are collaborating on a test that could accurately tell you that you’re about to get cancer, replacing mammograms and colonoscopies.

67-year-old Phil Waigand of Arlington is a rectal cancer survivor.  He’s one of countless cancer patients who could have benefited from the revolutionary work now underway in this DNA lab at Baylor Medical Center.

“This is very revolutionary,” says Dr. Ajay Goel of the Baylor Research Institute.  “This is quite exciting.”

Baylor and TGen, an Arizona genetic research lab, have partnered on a gene sequencing project to create a blood test which can diagnose cancer earlier than ever.

They say they could probably predict cancer “several months or even several years before we can predict that this patient has something on in their blood,” says Dr. Goel.

In two to five years, Baylor says patients undergoing annual physicals will be able to have what are called liquid biopsies. A blood screening for cancer that would not only be easy and frequent, but less invasive than surgical biopsies, mammograms and colonoscopies, something Waigand avoided.

“At 50 I was supposed to be checked with a colonoscopy but I said no I’m ok my insurance isn’t going to cover it I don’t want to do it,” said Waigand.

For survivors like him, there’s always a chance that cancer will return, but better blood testing will increase his odds of staying alive.

When this test is available, doctors will get a genetic chart that looks like this to detect signs of cancer.
This is local research so Baylor says that means local patients will be the first to benefit.

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