Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. In 2015, cancer killed 595,930 people, which is equivalent to 22% of all deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. This number continues to rise, and it was estimated that before the end of 2017, cancer will have claimed more than 600,000 lives last year. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, $87.8 billion was spent in the US in 2014 related to cancer-related healthcare services. Genetic testing is available to help patients fight the war against disease. Early detection of cancer helps assign the right treatment and rise in survival rates. Early disease tests are available for various types of malignancies. Genetic testing for predisposition and early detection have positively adjusted survival rates for various types of cancer growths by up to 35%, according to the National Institutes of Health. Genetic cancer screening tests offer multiple positive results, such as increased survival rates and possibly reduced healthcare costs for both patients and providers.
What is genetic screening?
Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in genes, chromosomes, or proteins. Findings discovered during a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s likelihood of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. There are more than 1,000 genetic tests currently in use.
The essential goal is to distinguish the test from higher-risk cancer populations and early detection of cancer growth in patients to decrease mortality. A correct early screening can modify mortality rates as well as offer a possibility of prolonged life and offer a better quality of life to the patient. For example, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women with a malignancy. Insights from the National Cancer Institute have shown that women who had a standard mammogram reduced their risk of death by 15-20%. In general, the consistency of detection is low, which means that the number of people who need to be tested for specific growths is not ideal. For example, in 2014, the CDC showed that only 65.7% of patients older than 50 years were screened for colonic malignancy, while 27.3% had not been screened at all. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people at risk who were screened for colon cancer could prevent 90% of a cancer diagnosis. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 patients who discovered a colonic growth through a normal exam were still alive 5 years after initial diagnosis. In addition, people with a malignancy who have participated in a counteracting program, such as lifestyle changes and who have quit smoking, may receive reduced out-of-pocket costs and lower health care benefit premiums. In some cases, early detection and treatment before metastasis can also positively alter treatment and outcomes.
New genetic screening tests are coming
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, pioneered another strategy for identifying malignancies known as objective error-correcting sequencing. It is used to recognize even the lowest levels of circular tumor DNA, which is usually found in those with early-stage growths. In the examination, 200 samples were taken from people with colorectal, breast, ovarian and lung cancer, distinguishing 62% of stage I and II tumors. What is also worth mentioning is that no false positives were found in 44 healthy people who were tested.
Different biomarkers have been recognized for a large group of growths, including breast, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and prostatic. In 2016, 15,000 patients with 50 different types of tumors underwent liquid biopsy screening, which revealed detectable changes in six different types of biomarkers, including epidermal development factor receptor reported in late-developing lung growths and the B-Raf proto-oncogene, which has been linked to increased incidence of melanoma, with a specificity of 94% to 100% of screenings. comparative tissue biopsies. This could take into account the potential focused on targeted treatments for gene-specific malignancies to be customized and treatment options for those not yet qualified. Liquid biopsies could help reduce the risk of disease recurrence by finding circulating DNA after colon enlargement surgery. In 2016, researchers found that by reviewing tumor DNA metrics from the blood of patients with stage II colon cancer, they could predetermine which patients would be at higher risk of recurrence due to any persistent residual circulating tumor DNA. People who had circulating tumor DNA after surgery would likely endure repeat diagnosis; people who then underwent genetic liquid biopsies after cancer removal would be better equipped to assess improved postoperative treatments. So a liquid biopsy can be an affordable, non-invasive way to help recognize people who might benefit from postoperative chemotherapy.