Blood test considered a “game changer” in detection of cancer recurrence cases

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – According to projections provided by the American Cancer Society, almost two million people in the United States will be given a disease diagnosis throughout the course of this year, and a significant percentage of those people will have a recurrence of their cancer after treatment.

The year 2018 marked the beginning of Bonnie Miller’s unexpected bouts of back discomfort.

“And I don’t normally get sick you know, no problems and I thought oh maybe I have kidney stones or something,” Miller said.

Instead, it was determined that the discomfort was caused by a tumor that was located between her kidney and her bladder. This tumor required both chemotherapy and surgery in order to be cured.

Imaging is the method that is often used to determine whether or not Miller’s cancer has returned; however, this method is not without its drawbacks.

“You cannot repeat scans even every three months, we do them every six months and the scan is read positive or negative,” said.

Holy Cross Health’s Dr. Georges Aziz is a hematologist and oncologist.

He pointed out that over that time period of six months, the disease might come back or spread without being identified by imaging at all.

A blood test known as Signaterra has emerged as what he refers to as a “game changer” in recent years.

“This one is a continuous data stream and it’s a type of an early warning system for cancer recurrence,” Aziz said.

This gives medical professionals the opportunity to act early and maybe halt the growth of the illness.

Or, if the results of the test come back negative, patients can be spared treatments that aren’t essential and might be harmful.

“So it provides the patient with comfort in knowing what their status is and information is always a powerful tool,” Aziz said.

Miller tried a new treatment for her illness, and tests showed that it was working well. She was finally given permission to stop getting treatment without putting her health at risk.

“It gives you a really good feeling being tested on a regular basis so you know there’s nothing else growing in there and it does test for the cells from your tumor so from that sense it gives you a real good feeling of hope that you can see your grandchildren get married, that sort of thing so that’s the beauty of it all, you just keep going on,” she said.

There is also a blood test known as the Gallari test that may identify tumors that are difficult to diagnose in other ways.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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