There has been much in the medical press in recent months about cancer screening and the efficacy of current prostate and breast cancer screening tests. In a recent article, the standard PSA blood test (prostate specific antigen test) used for detecting cancer was highlighted as being unreliable. Whilst PSA can provide early diagnosis, it does also have very high false positive rates and medium false negative rates. There is no national cancer screening program for prostate cancer, this is because the benefits have not yet been proven to outweigh the risks, nevertheless any man over the age of 50 who would like to be checked for prostate cancer can discuss PSA testing with their GP.
A positive PSA test will result in follow up action and often lead to a biopsy, an invasive and risky procedure, whereby small samples of the prostate are removed and then looked at with a microscope. The NHS PSA testing overview highlights the issues with overdiagnosis leading to overtreatment, and the reverse, where around 1 in 7 will have normal PSA levels and may have prostate cancer, leading to missed cases.
Likewise with breast cancer screening, we all know that Mammography is the recognised standard for screening and detecting breast cancer. In the UK there is a national screening program for women over 50. On average, breast screening detects cancers in 9 out of every 1,000 being screened. It is not hugely effective in detecting small early stage cancers and there are difficulties in reliable screening of dense breast tissue. False positive rates are estimated at between 65% and 77%.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme began in 1988 and the PSA test was first available in 1986. Over the last 37 years, there has been billions put into cancer research including improving screening technologies to identify cancers at the earliest possible stages. So if you are asking yourself, what is the best way to check for breast cancer beyond self examination and NHS screening then read on.
In recent studies published in the Cancer Medicine Journal and MDPI.com it was found that “liquid biopsies” are proven to be significantly more accurate at finding cases of breast and prostate cancer irrespective of age, stage and other factors, and with a significantly reduced rate of false positives.
So what is the liquid biopsy?. This is a simple blood test that is then sent to and processed by a lab, and looks for circulating tumour cells (CTC’s) in the blood. Does this sound familiar?
In November 2022, Concierge Medical established a partnership with Datar Genetics to offer their Trucheck™ Intelli blood test to members. The Intelli blood test is an all encompassing blood test that can distinguish 70 types of solid tumours, it will also detect cancers even at the very early stages. Many of our members have already benefited from the test and its ability to identify with significant accuracy the presence (or not) of cancers.
Trucheck™ also comes in a single organ specific test for Breast and Prostate. Trucheck™ detects circulating tumour cells (CTCs) where clusters of these CTCs which are released by malignant tumours, but not from non-cancerous (normal / benign tumour / inflammatory) tissue. Hence CTCs are ubiquitously seen in the blood of cancer patients but absent in the blood of healthy individuals.
In the case of breast cancer detection, the Trucheck test can correctly identify 92% of breast cancers, and brings significant advantages in its enhanced ability to correctly differentiate between breast cancer cases, benign breast conditions, and healthy women irrespective of age, ethnicity, disease stage or grade. Trucheck Breast has been awarded the FDA breakthrough designation given to new technologies that offer significant advantages over existing clinical methods. In the case of Prostate cancer detection, the Trucheck test can accurately identify 96% of cases (based on Specificity and Sensitivity).
We offer members of our Practice all of the Trucheck tests. If you are thinking about getting a health check for cancer, we can help.
Trucheck™ is recommended for
- Asymptomatic members who have a family history
- Members that wish to include a test as part of a yearly check
- Asymptomatic members who have a high risk of cancer.
These tests are not recommended for people that have had cancer, or are symptomatic.