The Cancer Test

Exposing a growing tumor's secrets may be as simple as drawing blood--and that can save lives

Mediscan / Corbis

Illustration depicting the metamorphosis of a normal human leukocyte, in this case a "B" cell, into a malignant tumor cell.

With a disease as complex as cancer, it's easy to forget that sometimes the most effective defense can be the simplest. Despite all the gadgets that modern medicine has to image, diagnose and track a tumor, there is an easier way to go about things. Researchers at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago reported earlier this month that the best way to figure out how a cancer is progressing is to draw a little blood.

Tracking cancer via the blood certainly isn't new. Just as a pregnancy test can detect the proteins of a 10-day-old fetus in...

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