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Swansea scientists discover 'quick' blood test that could save thousands of cancer patients

Academics from Swansea University have developed a blood test that could help save thousands of lives.

It works by spotting changes in the surface of red blood cells - changes that are a by-product of cancer. It means patients could be diagnosed before symptoms begin to show.

Scientists at Swansea University have been working on the test for four years Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

“The test can be likened to a “cancer smoke detector” because a smoke detector does not detect the presence of fire in our homes but its by-product - smoke. This test detects cancer, by detecting the “smoke” – the mutated blood cells."

– Professor Gareth Jenkins, Swansea University

The blood is stained with antibodies, which work as markers to see if there have been changes to the surface.

It takes around 30 minutes to test the blood, and they estimate each test costs around £35.

Rachel Lawrence from Port Talbot is part of the research team Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Watch: Megan Boot go behind the scenes at the laboratory where the test was developed

So far the tests have focused on oesophageal cancer, but the scientists are going to see if it applies to pancreatic cancer too.

There are further tests needed but if they prove successful, scientists estimate it could be available to the public in five years time.