Simple test could take the pain and agony out of diagnosis 14



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A nurse applying a sterile pad.

British researchers believe they have found a way to take at least some of the pain, discomfort and fear out of the diagnosis of the disease we all dread the most.

A new blood test could soon be available in doctors’ surgeries that provides a cancer diagnosis in a matter of days, rather than having to wait for a specialist appointment, have a biopsy or other exploratory procedure, then wait for the results.

Thoracic surgeon Eric Lim, who led the study on blood tests from 223 patients, says the test could be “a real game changer” in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer when he presented the findings of the study to the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Colorado.

The study focused on lung cancer patients and was accurate 70 per cent of the time in identifying cancer-specific gene mutations in the DNA. The doctors, from the Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College London, also studied cancerous tissue from the patients to see how closely it could be linked to the blood sample.

The major benefit, aside from taking a lot of stress out of the situation, is that many cancers could be caught earlier and treatment begun immediately.

Dr Lim said: “The test is not an alternative to a biopsy for all patients, but when a blood test shows a positive result, this could mean a patient is saved from going through an unnecessary and invasive diagnostic procedure.

“It might also result in patients having earlier imaging scans and beginning treatment sooner.”

While a negative result would not rule out the presence of cancer cells, this test could certainly help us in the race against cancer.

Have you ever been investigated for cancer? Was it a long and drawn-out process? What kinds of emotions did you experience? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Great news. Just get back to non chemical cleaners in the home. And no processed food would be a start.

  2. I remember in 1964 in UK they said a cure would be found for cancer within 10 years. They have made many inroads but the cause is still not known. My father smoked like a chimney but died of natural causes, as did my mother. I ended up with kidney cancer. Why? Who knows. Was it the result of my father smoking? My brother and sister are still very healthy at age 82 and 75 yet we were all brought up in the same house. My husband had colon cancer, then liver cancer. His father smoked heavily. Could it be related? His brothers and sisters are all healthy so why did he get cancer. Lots of questions and answers needed.

    2 REPLY
    • Actually Carol I have just had another thought. My husband was an engineer and spent many years with fuel fumes, and I worked for an engineering company that made fibreglass things and I had to go on to the factory floor to pay the weekly wages to the men. Wonder if this has anything to do with us both getting cancer? Could be this and the effects of our dads’ both smoking.

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