What if you found cancer early enough to make a difference? The vast majority of cancers show no symptoms until the later stages when treatment options are limited.
Seventy-one percent of cancer deaths are caused by cancers not commonly screened. When cancers are diagnosed early before they have had a chance to spread, the overall five-year survival rate is four times higher than when diagnosed in later stages.
The five most common regular cancer screenings that exist are breast mammography, PAP test for cervical cancer, colonoscopy and stool tests for rectal and colon cancer, CT scans for lung cancer and PSA tests for prostate cancer.
Galleri Blood Test for Cancer
The Galleri test detects a cancer signal shared by more than 50 types of cancer through a simple blood draw. Most insurance does not cover the test at this time but at around $1,000 it is well worth the cost. It may be able to find pancreatic, ovarian, bladder, anal, leukemia or lung cancers at their very beginnings.
It may help doctors find the origin of the cancer in metastatic disease.
The Galleri test has a 0.5% false positive rate, which means it is highly accurate. If you look at the 12 cancers that account for two-thirds of all cancer deaths in the U.S., this test finds 67% of them. The NHS system in England is doing a large-scale study to save billions by finding cancers and treating them in the early stages.
We are living in amazing times and as more people and doctors do tests, it will help decrease the cost and also human suffering.
I spoke with Dr. Magdalena Swierczewski, a board-certified internist and integrative medicine doctor in Southampton who offers the test to her patients. She was excited about the possibilities of finding cancers even before symptoms arise and saving lives.
Think positive and test negative. Keep calm and carry on.
Peter Michalos, MD is an FAAO board-certified ophthalmologist, clinical associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.