Early Detection Increases Survival Rates
Can a Blood Test Detect Cancer in Women?
The Galleri blood test can detect more than 50 types of cancer with a simple blood draw, helping patients detect cancers early and substantially increasing the likelihood of surviving five (or more) years.
According to the World Health Organization, “When cancer care is delayed or inaccessible there is a lower chance of survival, greater problems associated with treatment and higher costs of care.”
The most common reason cancer care is delayed in the United States is that patients don’t know they have cancer. For women, only four of the five most common types of cancers are screened for routinely. Screening for other types of cancers only takes place after a patient becomes symptomatic — typically when cancer has progressed to a point that the chance of surviving even five years past the point of diagnosis is slim.
5 Most Common Cancers in Women
According to the American Cancer Society, women are most commonly affected by the following five cancers:
- Breast Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer (Colon and Rectal Cancers)
- Cervical Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Lung Cancer
In order to help promote early detection and better outcomes, the American Cancer Society’s Get Screened campaign recommends regular screening. When to start screening for which cancers can be impacted by your own personal risk facts. These can include:
- Previous Diagnosis
- First-Degree Relative Diagnosis
The following are the general best practices for when women should start screening for these five common cancers found in females:
- Age 25: Cervical Cancer
- Age 40 - 49: Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Colorectal Cancer
- Age 50+: Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Lung Cancer
What About Breast Self-Exams?
For years, breast self-exams were touted as a vital first line of defense in the early detection of breast cancer. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, health professionals and cancer advocates would pump up the importance of feeling up. But in recent years, the breast self-exam went from critical to optional.
In a 2020 article, ‘Should You Do Self Breast Exams?’ published by Michigan Health, author Shelley Zalewski explored this topic. Specifically, she interviewed Kimberly Hoskins, N.P., who specializes in counseling patients on breast cancer risk factors and early detection strategies.
Hoskins explained that:
Research has also shown that breast self-examinations can lead to unnecessary worry and anxiety, as well as unnecessary appointments and even breast biopsies, when a woman thinks she feels something. Some lumps a woman can feel end up being benign. Conversely, a woman who relies only on self-exams can develop a false sense of security when she doesn’t feel something. She may conclude she does not need regular mammography.
While Hoskins recommends that those at high risk still perform monthly exams — and/or — have regular clinical breast exams, she doesn’t believe it’s vital for those not at high risk.
When & How to Do a Breast Self-Exam?
For those who choose to do a breast self-exam, when to perform it depends on whether you are pre-menopausal or post-menopausal:
- Pre-Menopausal (still getting your period): Perform after your period ends.
- Post-Menopausal (no longer getting your period): Perform on the same day of the month.
The beauty of performing a monthly breast self-exam is that you can become innately familiar with your breasts. This can increase the likelihood that you notice irregularities. You want to look for:
- Any nipple discharge that appears without pressing the breast or nipple
- Lumps or hard knots
- Any change in the size or shape of your breasts
- An inversion or sinking nipple
- Puckering, dimpling or bulges in the skin
- A rash, rose, peeling or flaking around the skin of the nipple
- Any change in color of the breast
- An increase in breast temperature (is it hotter than normal?)
What About Cancers Not Commonly Screened For?
Currently, there are screenings for four of the five most common types of female cancers. And among those screenings, breast cancer gets by far the most attention.
Unfortunately, these four common screenings look for less than 4% of cancers. There are more than 100 types of cancer, and when those cancers aren’t screened for the chance of early detection plummets — resulting in higher mortality rates.
A 2021 study published in the British Journal of Cancer looked at cancer-related deaths among patients 50-79. Researchers found that 76% of the cancer-related deaths were from cancers not commonly screened for.
GRAIL Galleri Blood Test Detects More Than 50 Types of Cancer
The Galleri Blood Test is a simple and non-invasive test that has been shown to detect more than 50 different types of cancer — 47 of which are not commonly screened for. A clinical evaluation of the test looked at more than 4,000 patients. During this study, the test identified:
- ~ 17% of patients with stage I cancer
- 40% of patients with stage II cancer
- 77% of patients with stage III cancer
- 90% of patients with stage IV cancer
How Can a Blood Test Detect Cancer Using Minuscule Markers in the DNA?
Each person’s DNA is completely unique, just like a snowflake. This is what makes each and every individual different, even if only by the slightest amount. Tumors produce their own unique strand that’s independent of a patient’s DNA.
The Galleri test is used to look for this foreign DNA in a patient’s blood, signaling that cancer is present.
Does the Grail Cancer Test Really Tell You What Kind of Cancer You Have?
Typically, yes. If the Grail cancer test detects a foreign DNA strand in your blood, it can then use that foreign DNA to help pinpoint where in the body the cancer is located.
It’s important to remember that any positive test is not a diagnosis. A positive test only gives a patient helpful information that they can use when working with their healthcare provider to determine their next best steps.
For patients who do have cancer, Premier Integrative’s holistic cancer treatment support services provide assistance at any stage of a cancer diagnosis, treatment protocol, or recovery. This is not a replacement for traditional cancer treatments. Your Naturopathic Medical Doctor partners directly with your Medical Oncologist, Surgeon, and Radiation Oncologist to help support your health and recovery goals. This can include helping you:
- Speed Recovery
- Prevent Recurrence
- Manage Side Effects
- Improve Quality of Life
Increases Survival Rates with Early Detection
As scary as ‘knowing’ can be, early detection can help substantially increase survival rates. All it takes is a simple blood draw to embrace the power of knowledge. Because when you’re in the fight of your life, you deserve every advantage.