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Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-17-2006, 07:04 AM   #1
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Blood Test for Cancer?

Is there an overall blood test for cancer? I recall that my gym friend who recently passed away from cancer told me there is such a test.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-17-2006, 07:06 AM   #2
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Alas, no.

There are various markers for specific cancers (such as for ovarian and a few others) but they are generally used to follow the course of disease during treatment. Also, they are imperfect, bwith troublesome false positives and negatives.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-19-2006, 11:13 PM   #3
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

I worked in a lab that has developed a blood and urine test for prostate and certain other kinds of cancer... but it's still in development and hasn't been commercialized (although they will do tests upon request for celebrities and others connected to the research center). There are a whole bunch of these technologies (diagnostics) that should hit the market in the next decade.

Sometimes there is resistence in the market to the adoption of new diagnostic techs. I find the case of EXAS very interesting. They have what seems like a decent test for colon cancer but since it threatens the valuable colonoscopy centers, no GI docs like them, or will adopt the test. Their progress has consequently been very very slow.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-20-2006, 07:34 AM   #4
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

They do blood tests to track certain markers that indicate how active the cancer is for my MIL - colorectal & liver.

My in-laws just don't get it. My MIL had been blood tested for liver function every 6 months due to the blood pressure medicine she had been taken, and it indicated that liver function was "perfect". So my in-laws don't understand why that test didn't show there was cancer in the liver. I've tried to explain that what they test for to evaluate liver function must be totally different than detecting cancer. They just find this very hard to understand.

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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-20-2006, 08:12 AM   #5
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1
My in-laws just don't get it. My MIL had been blood tested for liver function every 6 months due to the blood pressure medicine she had been taken, and it indicated that liver function was "perfect". So my in-laws don't understand why that test didn't show there was cancer in the liver. I've tried to explain that what they test for to evaluate liver function must be totally different than detecting cancer. They just find this very hard to understand.
A few years ago a so-called investigative reporter decided she would "bust" some medical labs as fraudulent. She submitted a specimen of diet Mountain Dew or 7-up instead of a urine specimen. The lab did what labs are supposed to do: they checked it for protein, glucose, white blood cells, bile, etc. The report correctly and accurately reported all these as negative or normal. Of course no lab does checks to prove that the specimen is what it is purported to be.

The report came out flamboyantly accusing the lab of being corrupt, dishonest and billing fraudulently and the case actually went to court. No sure of the outcome, but in my opinion, the reported and network deserved to be found guilty of libel and journalistic malpractice, if there is such a thing.

Course, then there is the dermatologist who diagnosed a nice fragment of Wrigley chewing gum as squamous cell skin cancer, but that's another story.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-20-2006, 08:35 AM   #6
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

There is the prostate specific anitgen test (PSA) but it is known to be heavy on false positives. Of course, some cancers affect certain aspects of blood count like myeloma and lymphoma, but the tests are not specific for cancer; the skewed results may be suggestive.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-20-2006, 08:49 AM   #7
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by macdaddy
.. but it's still in development and hasn't been commercialized (although they will do tests upon request for celebrities and others connected to the research center).
Lab research using celebrities (instead of lab rats). I love the concept.

JG
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-21-2006, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
A few years ago a so-called investigative reporter decided she would "bust" some medical labs as fraudulent. She submitted a specimen of diet Mountain Dew or 7-up instead of a urine specimen. The lab did what labs are supposed to do: they checked it for protein, glucose, white blood cells, bile, etc. The report correctly and accurately reported all these as negative or normal. Of course no lab does checks to prove that the specimen is what it is purported to be.
I wonder what's in urine that makes it urine-- uric acid?

More importantly, what's in Mountain Dew that keeps it from being classified as urine?
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-21-2006, 02:49 PM   #9
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I wonder what's in urine that makes it urine-- uric acid?
More importantly, what's in Mountain Dew that keeps it from being classified as urine?
Well, never thought of it that way. I suppose you could verify that urine is urine, more or less, by looking at some range of concentration for creatinine, electrolytes, bilirubin and certain trace amounts of protein. But that's expensive to do on every sample. The lab procedures are not designed to be forensic screening tools, so it's still probably best to work under the assumption that something labeled urine is urine and start from there. There's an assumption of good faith in the non-forensic context.

Mountain Dew? I guess it must be mostly aspartame, water and flavoring. If it's yellow and free of chemicals that signify disease, it gives a "normal" urinalysis. I bet that regular Mountain Dew would indicate pretty bad "diabetes," though.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-21-2006, 03:44 PM   #10
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I wonder what's in urine that makes it urine-- uric acid?

More importantly, what's in Mountain Dew that keeps it from being classified as urine?
The same could be asked about light beer.
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?
Old 11-21-2006, 07:19 PM   #11
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Re: Blood Test for Cancer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
bilirubin
I first heard the term "bilirubin" as a nurse's aide and wondered what "Billy Ruben" could be (didn't I go to school with that kid? ) But I learned it's a reddish pigment in bile, resulting from breakdown of the heme in hemoglobin--"rubin" must be related to red, and "bili" to bile. But it still sounds funny to me--not like an English word.
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