Cancer can develop in a variety of different organs, with each type of cancer presenting different signatures detectable via individual specialized methods. Cancer researchers have long sought to discover a way to detect multiple forms of cancer (over 100 in all) with a single test. Recently, scientists at a Silicon Valley healthcare company called GRAIL have succeeded in such a breakthrough, producing a blood test that can recognize 10 unique types of cancer with varying degrees of certainty.
In general, cancer is a unique disease in that a person’s immune system cannot recognize the key players, which are a person’s own cells turned against them. Since the immune system is designed to distinguish between “self” and “non-self,” cancer cells frequently slip through. Thus, scientists have expended significant time and resources to identify markers on cancer cells that are distinctive relative to normal healthy cells, which would aid in the detection of cancer.