How a New Health Innovation Might Save Your Life
Tom Kerr writing on health innovation…
You’re lost in the woods on a moonless night, looking for a tiny, hiking trail blaze marker on a tree…and it’s a life or death situation.
Now picture the same scenario, except you’re wearing the latest in night vision goggle technology.
A new cancer-detection methodology called liquid biopsy may be similarly illuminating for your oncologist.
Cancer kills one out of every four people in the U.S. And while an outright cure may be a long time coming, this newest liquid biopsy breakthrough could give you the power to spot cancerous cells years before the disease has a chance to show any symptoms.
Researchers observed that tumors were shedding tiny bits of DNA. Those telltale traces were found floating through the bloodstream.
Until now, such lifesaving information could only be revealed through tissue biopsy procedures, which can be extremely invasive. They may even involve poking around in the most delicate and vital parts of your body – like your brain.
Tissue biopsies are notorious for elevating the risk of post-biopsy medical problems. A significant number of men who undergo a prostate biopsy develop severe infections. Those bacterial infections may even be resistant to the antibiotic medicines your oncologist prescribes post-biopsy.
Next thing you know, you’re dialing 911 because you have chills, fever, and other scary symptoms.
The less exposure you have to clinics, emergency rooms, and hospital wards, the better.
Taking a blood sample for a liquid biopsy is relatively non-invasive…and the procedure may offer vastly better insights to help detect and eradicate the cancer before it even manifests.
Indeed, those who conducted this most recent research found about 100 times more useful data than had been revealed in previous liquid biopsy studies. Plus, they were about 80% to 90% accurate in pinpointing the origin of some tumor-shed DNA traces – like those associated with lung and colon cancer, two of the most common killers.
In an earlier study, another biotech company, Guardant Health, analyzed blood from more than 15,000 patients with tumors.
Those researchers compared liquid biopsy results to traditional tissue biopsies. More than 85% of the time, the liquid biopsy results matched those of the more invasive tissue biopsies.
While reading all of this, I remembered all the classmates and friends who suffered from polio when I was a child. Back then, polio was in the news more frequently than cancer. But by 1979 the disease had been completely eradicated in the United States. Nowadays it seems like ancient history.
All of this makes you wonder what other discoveries are coming down the track that could help protect your health, reduce invasive procedures, and save you time and money. That adds up to greater freedom of choice all the way around.
But to enjoy your freedom…you need your independence, and that requires a little upkeep.
If there’s a problem under the hood I can’t figure out, I don’t just keep driving until I blow the engine and need an overhaul. I visit my expert mechanic, who has some fancy diagnostic tools.
Likewise, I don’t mind spending a couple of hours every year or two at the doctor’s office for preventative care…if that means avoiding the hospital…and the risk of getting totaled.
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