A new blood test for cancer

Cancer cells can float in a person’s blood. But finding them, in the past, used to be like “looking for a needle in a haystack”.

But new smart technology promises to detect these cancer cells easily and much early before a person develops symptoms. Detection of cancer cells at an early stage may be helpful for some patients.

A recently published study in the journal “Annals of Oncology” reports exciting results.

A Californian company called Grail has developed a blood test which seems to have a high degree of accuracy for detection of multiple cancers.

Times newspaper reports that “The NHS will begin a pilot scheme of the test with 140,000 people this year. If that is successful it will be used for millions of patients by 2025”

A word of caution though.

Just because something could be diagnosed early does not always mean that it is a good thing.

The most important thing is whether the early diagnosis can lead to better cure rates and a better quality of life.

If a test detects a cancer early but has no meaningful effect on quantity or quality of life, then it is not a good thing.

For example. Up to 80% of men have prostate cancer which can now be detected by a simple blood test called PSA. There is a good reason why we are NOT using the simple PSA test in every 80 year old.

Most 80 year old men die WITH prostate cancer rather than DUE to prostate cancer.

So why diagnose a cancer that is not causing symptoms if it is not going to make person live longer !

REFERENCES

Times. New blood test, created by Californian company Grail, detects cancers among over-50s. Kat Lay, Health Editor. Friday June 25 2021, 12.01am, The Times.

Clinical validation of a targeted methylation-based multi-cancer early detection test using an independent validation set. E A Klein et al. Ann Oncol. 2021.

Guardian. Blood test that finds 50 types of cancer is accurate enough to be rolled out.
Diagnostic tool being piloted by NHS England shows ‘impressive results’ in spotting tumours in early stages
Blood tests’ development could help the NHS further.
Nadeem Badshah and agency
Fri 25 Jun 2021 06.00 BST

Daily Mail. NHS trials ‘holy grail’ blood test that can spot 50 kinds of cancer: Ground-breaking check that can accurately detect two thirds of deadly cancers early in healthy people could save thousands of lives a year. By Victoria Allen Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail
00:00, 25 Jun 2021 , updated 10:04, 25 Jun 2021

NHS. Should I have a PSA test?

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe in cancer patients having immunotherapy?

Yes, Pfizer vaccine is safe.

A recent study published in the esteemed Lancet Oncology Journal shows that the vaccine is well tolerated in patients having immunotherapy.

Unlike cancer chemotherapy, immunotherapy works differently. It works by releasing the in-built brakes holding down the immune system thereby boosting the body’s immune system against cancer.

There has been some theoretical concerns whether this might lead to COVID vaccine causing more side effects.

Reassuringly, the Vaccine side effects were NO different from those seen in people not having immunotherapy. The Vaccine also did NOT increase the immunotherapy side effects.

Immunotherapy is increasingly used widely in treatment of cancer are often better tolerated than chemotherapy.

So the study is good news for tens of thousands of patients on immunotherapy and any cancer patient who has hesitated before, should seriously consider having the vaccine now

COVID infection could be very nasty in cancer patients and all evidence points to the benefits of vaccine far outweighing any risks from the Vaccine.

References

Short-term safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in patients with cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors
The Lancet Oncology. Published: April 1, 2021
Barliz Waissengrin et al. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00155-8

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How long does it take for taste sensation to recover after Radiotherpy to Head and Neck region ?

Curative Radiotherpy to Tongue, Mouth , Throat and other parts of head and Neck can lead to dry mouth, sticky saliva, difficulty in swallowing solid foods, and loss of taste sensation.

Loss of taste sensation affects food intake and affects quality of life.

A group from Tel Aviv studied the effect of radiotherapy on taste sensation in head and neck cancer patients.

They found that “taste recovery started to occur 1 month after treatment completion

References:

The effect of radiotherapy on taste sensation in head and neck cancer patients – a prospective study. Michal Asif et al. Radiat Oncol. 2020. Radiat Oncol. 2020 Jun 5;15(1):144. doi: 10.1186/s13014-020-01578-4. Authors: Michal Asif, Assaf Moore, Noam Yarom, Aron Popovtzer.

Oral complications at 6 months after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. R V Lalla et al. Oral Dis. 2017 Nov. Oral Dis. 2017 Nov;23(8):1134-1143. doi: 10.1111/odi.12710. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Prospective assessment of taste impairment and nausea during radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Stefania Martini et al. Med Oncol. 2019 Apr 9;36(5):44. doi: 10.1007/s12032-019-1269-x.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Does smoking cause Body pain ?

Yes. Smoking can cause body pain and make you miserable.

Smoking is bad for various obvious reasons including the risk of developing of cancer. As smoking can make you miserable with pain, it’s time to make a new year resolution to stop smoking.

A large study done in UK shows that current and ex-smokers have a higher degree of bodily pain.

The study involved 223,537 people who were surveyed between 2009 and 2013 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Lab UK Study.

As it is such a big study, the conclusions do need to be taken seriously.

Definitely another reason for quitting smoking this new year !

Reference:

Associations between smoking status and bodily pain in a cross-sectional survey of UK respondents. Addictive Behaviors 102:106229 · December 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106229

Smokers past and present ‘live in more pain’ – BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.