A simple blood test that could provide the key to detecting all forms of cancer has been developed by a team of British researchers.
Scientists from the University of Bradford tested their technique on three forms of cancer and have reported positive results, reports The Telegraph.
They hope the test could prevent the need for invasive procedures like colonoscopies, but say more work is needed to prove their method works.
The technique involves firing ultraviolet light at white blood cells to damage the DNA.
So far the results have shown that DNA in the blood of patients suffering from melanoma, lung and colon cancer is more easily damaged.
Patients with pre-cancerous conditions showed an intermediate level of damage.
Prof Diana Anderson, from the University of Bradford's School of Life Sciences, who led the research, told the BBC: "We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA - the genome - in a cell.
"These are early results completed on three different types of cancer and we accept that more research needs to be done; but these results so far are remarkable."
Dr Anthea Martin, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, said: "Diagnosing cancer earlier is key to improving the chances of survival, but any new technique must be thoroughly trialled to make sure it is reliable and accurate.
"Although this small study is interesting, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about this test and much bigger studies are needed to prove whether it could be useful for diagnosing cancer on a wider scale."