Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

New Test for Cancer

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 28/03/2013

Almost 100,000 cases of breast, prostate and ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year and, together, the 3 diseases claim more than 25,000 lives a year. However, it has been widely reported that a saliva test costing just £5 could soon be routinely used to detect patients with a high risk of cancer.

The £5 test would help detect women with a high risk of breast cancer and men who are genetically prone to prostate tumours. Patients could then be monitored to catch any tumours in their early stages – while the chances of survival are still high.

The possibility of genetic testing has come about after 4 years of genetic analysis by more than 1,000 scientists around the world revealed 80 new genes linked to cancers – almost doubling the number of genes known. The results of the study may also one day lead to drugs to tackle hard-to-treat cancers and a test for ovarian cancer and could be used to assess the risk of bowel and lung cancers.

It is also understood that as a result, for every life saved by screening, 3 women have gruelling, expensive and unnecessary treatments. In contrast, the new test should be able to pick out the women with the highest risk of the disease. They could then be monitored, and even given drugs to stop the cancer from developing.

A genetic test for prostate cancer could also be available within 5 years and Professor Ros Eeles, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "These results are the single biggest leap forward in finding the genetic causes of prostate cancer yet made. The work could have a big impact on the number of people dying from the disease, which is still far too high".

Professor Alan Ashworth, the chief executive of Cancer Research, called it a ‘game-changer’.

Whilst this is very exciting news it is sometimes the case that a doctor or other healthcare professional may fail to appreciate, or identify, that there is a risk of cancer and wrongly conclude that no specific treatment is required.

This delay may be as a result of substandard care and may be the difference between life and death.

So although this is a step in the right direction, it is still in the preliminary stages but has the potential to revolutionise the way in which cancer is diagnosed and treated - speeding up treatment resulting in much higher survival rates.

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