Connect with us

Health

Blood test could help detect cancer in people with nonspecific symptoms | Cancer

Published

on

Scientists have developed a blood test that could help detect cancer in people with nonspecific symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue.

If validated, the test could enable cancer patients to be identified earlier, when they are more likely to respond to treatment, and help flag up who could benefit from early access to drugs designed to tackle metastatic cancer. The test can also tell if the disease has spread.

There is currently no clear route through which someone with nonspecific symptoms that could be cancer is referred for further investigation. NHS rapid diagnostic centres are being set up to support faster and earlier cancer diagnosis, but often patients will be examined by their GP, and if they can’t identify an obvious cause of their symptoms then the patient will simply be told to come back if they get worse.

“The problem we’ve had in the past is that if they do have cancer, that cancer is growing all the time, and when they come back the cancers are often quite advanced,” said Dr James Larkin, of the University of Oxford, who was involved in the research.

Although it is difficult to know precisely how many individuals fall into this category, “it is likely to be tens of thousands of patients across the UK,” Larkin said. “We’re hoping to capture these patients when they come to the GP, to give them an immediate referral option.

“The moment you can say ‘you have a cancer’, it provides a strong incentive to send that patient for an imaging investigation to see if you can find that cancer.”

The new test utilises a technology called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which profiles levels of small molecules called metabolites in the blood. Healthy individuals have different metabolic “fingerprints” to those with localised or metastatic cancer.

In a study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, Larkin and colleagues analysed samples from 300 patients with nonspecific but concerning symptoms of cancer, such as fatigue and weight loss, and found that the test correctly detected cancer in 19 out of every 20 of those with the disease. It cannot yet pinpoint the type of tumour they have, but this is the ultimate goal.

The test could also distinguish between patients with localised or metastatic cancer with 94% accuracy, making this the first blood test to be able to detect if a person’s cancer has spread without knowing type of tumour they have.

“Such information changes how you treat patients,” Larkin said. For instance, certain immunotherapies have been shown to increase survival rates among people with metastatic cancer, but they are expensive and have side-effects. “We don’t want to prescribe them to everyone, but there are patients out there that would absolutely benefit if you could only identify them early enough.

A different type of blood test that aims to detect circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) is being trialled in the NHS, but metabolic changes may be detectable earlier, while ctDNA technology also requires you to know which mutations to look for when finding a tumour.

The next step is to confirm the accuracy of the test in 2,000 to 3000 British patients with nonspecific symptoms, which Larkin hopes could happen within the next two years. This data would then be submitted to national regulatory agencies responsible for authorising such tests.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Health

Solar storms may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in a given year

Published

on

In an approximate 11-year cycle, the sun blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field, which may disrupt our body clock and ultimately affect our heart



Health



17 June 2022

A solar storm

Jurik Peter/Shutterstock

Solar storms that disrupt Earth’s magnetic field may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in the US in a given year.

The sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat approximately every 11 years. During periods of high activity, it blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field.

These so-called solar storms can cause glitches in our power grids and bring down Earth-orbiting satellites. A handful of studies have also hinted that they increase the risk of …

Source link

Continue Reading

Health

UK Covid infection rate rising, with more than a million cases in England | Coronavirus

Published

on

Coronavirus infections are rising in the UK, figures have revealed, with experts noting the increase is probably down to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, reveal that in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in the community in England are thought to have had Covid – around 1.13 million people.

The figure is even higher, at one in 45, in both Wales and Northern Ireland, while it was highest in Scotland where, in the week ending 10 June, one in 30 people are thought to have been infected.

While the figures remain below the peak levels of infection seen earlier this year, when around one in 13 people in England had Covid, the findings are a rise on the previous week where one in 70 people in England were thought to be infected. Furthermore, the data reveals increases in all regions of England, except the north-east, and across all age groups.

Experts say that a key factor in the increase is probably the rise of the Covid variants of concern BA.4 and BA.5.

“Infections have increased across all four UK nations, driven by rising numbers of people infected with the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants,” said Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey.

While Steel said it remained too early to say if this was the start of another wave, others have warned it may already have begun, with increased mixing and travelling among other factors fuelling a rise in cases.

Among concerns scientists have raised are that BA.4, BA.5 and another variant on the rise, BA.2.12.1, replicate more efficiently in human lung cells than BA.2.

Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said the latest figures were not surprising, and might rise further.

“This increase in infection prevalence is likely due to the growth of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which as we have seen elsewhere in Europe, appear to be able to escape immunity generated from previous Omicron subvariants,” she said.

“It is therefore possible that we will continue to see some growth in infection prevalence in the coming weeks and consequently an increase in hospitalisations, although these subvariants do not currently appear to result in any significantly changed severity profile. This does however serve as a reminder that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Health

NHS to offer women in England drug that cuts recurrence of breast cancer | Breast cancer

Published

on

Thousands of women in England with breast cancer are to benefit from a new pill on the NHS which reduces the risk of the disease coming back.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has given the green light to abemaciclib, which cuts the chance of breast cancer returning after a patient has had surgery to remove a tumour.

Trials showed that patients who had the drug with hormone therapy had a more than 30% improved chance of their cancer not coming back after surgery, compared with hormone therapy alone.

“It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back,” said Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now.

“The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.

“New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step change in the drug options available for this group of patients.”

The twice-a-day pill is suitable for women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence who have had surgery. About 4,000 women will benefit initially, Nice said.

Helen Knight, the interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the draft recommendation came less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence.

“The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost effective treatments as early as possible,” said Knight. “Until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease.”

Abemaciclib works by targeting and inhibiting proteins in cancer cells which allow the cancer to divide and grow. It normally costs £2,950 for a packet of 56 150mg-tablets, but the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has agreed an undisclosed discounted price for NHS England.

“Thanks in part to this latest deal struck by NHS England, NHS patients will be able to access another new targeted drug for a common and aggressive form of breast cancer,” said Prof Peter Johnson, the cancer director of NHS England.

“Abemaciclib, when used alongside a hormone therapy, offers a new, doubly targeted, treatment option, helping to increase the chances of beating the cancer for good, as well as meeting the NHS’s commitment to delivering improved cancer care under our long-term plan.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending