Can a Simple Blood Test Be Used for Early Cancer Detection?

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Research  published in a recent issue of the British Journal of Cancer concluded that high levels of calcium (hypercalcaemia) in blood could be used by practitioners as early indications of certain types of cancer and encourage other diagnostic tests. Hypercalcemia occures in 10 to 20 percent of people with cancer. Researchers said “All previous studies of hypercalcaemia and cancer had been carried out with patients who had already been diagnosed with cancer–hypercalcaemia was seen as a late effect of the cancer.” “We wanted to look at the issue frm a different perspective and find out if high  calcium levels in blood could be  used as an early indicator of cancer and therefore in the diagnosis of cancer.”

In a sample of 54,000 patients the analysis of data showed that in men, even mild hypercalcaemia (2.6-2.8 mmol 1-1 ) showed a risk in one year of 11.5 percent. when calcium was above 2.8 mmol 1-1. the risk increased to 28 percent. In women the risks were much lest, being 4.1 and 8.7 respectively. In relation to the gener difference, the researchers said “…we think it might be because women arwe more likely to have hyperparathyroidism, another cause of hypercalccaemia. Men rarely get this condition, so that hypercalcaemia is more likely to be due to cancer.”

Researchers found that in men, 81 percent of the cancer associated with hypercalcaemia was caused by lung, prostate, myeloma, coloreactal, and other haematological cancer. Further research is ongoing.

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