Scientists from the University of Bradford say they have used the technique on three types of cancer with promising results.
It is hoped that the test will prevent costly, invasive procedures such as colonoscopies and biopsies.
However, researchers say it is still very early days and much more work is needed.
Blood tests have been used before to detect different types of cancer, but the Bradford team hopes to develop a universal test for all cancers.
The technique involves subjecting white blood cells to ultraviolet light which damages cells' DNA.
Tests on the blood of patients suffering from melanoma, as well as colon and lung cancer, have shown DNA that is more easily damaged compared with healthy volunteers.
Patients with pre-cancerous conditions also showed an intermediate level of damage.