SOUTHAMPTON scientists are to begin a new study to try and predict which people pose a higher risk of having cancer.

The study is aimed at diagnosing cancer – and treating it – earlier in the process.

Analysing blood samples from participants, clinical information will be gathered and assessed from 20,000 patients to determine which signs and symptoms may predict those who go on to be diagnosed with cancers.

The new study has been funded by a £180,000 donation from the Arun Cancer Trust.

When they agreed to take part in the research, patients had blood taken for storage in the Southampton tissue bank, to be used for testing possible early blood markers of cancer in the future.

The study will look at circulating DNA, gene changes and the present of auto-antibodies, to find the markers that will ultimately lead to cancer being diagnosed earlier.

Professor Peter Johnson, of the University of Southampton, said: “We need to find ways to diagnose cancer earlier. Smarter blood tests may be one way to help this, together with finding ways to help GP’s pick up cancer from patients’ symptoms.

“Our colleagues in the primary care and population unit have been very successful, and thanks to the generosity of the patients taking part in the trail and the Arun Cancer Trust in supporting the work on the blood samples, we are in a great position to look for new ways to pick up cancers earlier.”

Tim Davies, a Trustee of the Arun Cancer Trust and a former GP, said: “I am so pleased that the Arun Cancer Trust has been able to help push forward this cutting-edge multi-disciplinary research.

“Miss Bridget Foster, whose original donation funds this gift, would have been delighted to know that it is being used for such worthwhile ends, in particular focusing on the early diagnoses of bowel cancer in a primary care setting.”