Rare cancer could be caught early using simple blood tests

August 14, 2018, University of Exeter
Myeloma HE stain. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

A pioneering study into myeloma, a rare cancer, could lead to GPs using simple blood tests to improve early diagnosis.

The study investigated the best combination of tests that could be used to diagnose in GP practices.

The research was a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the University of Exeter and Chiddenbrook Surgery, Crediton, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Researchers investigated how useful a number of different measures were for indicating the presence of the disease, and suggested what combinations of these tests were sufficient to rule out the disease, and to diagnose it, saving the patient from the worry of specialist referral.

Blood tests of 2703 cases taken up to five years prior to diagnosis were analysed and compared with those of 12,157 patients without the cancer, matching cases with control patients of similar age amongst other relevant parameters.

They demonstrated that a simple combination of two blood parameters could be enough to diagnose patients. Such blood tests are routinely conducted in GP surgeries.

Constantinos Koshiaris, lead author of the study, from Oxford University, said: "The combination of levels of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in the blood, and one of two inflammatory markers ( or plasma viscosity) are a sufficient test rule out myeloma. If abnormalities are detected in this , it should lead to urgent urine protein tests which can help speed up diagnosis".

Each year approximately 5,700 people are diagnosed with myeloma in the UK alone. It can lead to symptoms such as bone pain, fatigue and kidney failure. It has the longest diagnosis process of all common cancers, and a large number of patients are diagnosed after emergency care, over a third of which having had at least three primary care consultations.

Professor Willie Hamilton, of the University of Exeter Medical School, is principal investigator on the study. He said "Ordinarily a GP will see a patient with myeloma every five years—and matters. More timely treatment could significantly improve survival rates for this disease. We report a simple way a GP can check presenting symptoms such as back, rib and chest pain, or recurrent chest infections, and determine whether they have myeloma or not".

The authors also suggest the possibility of integrating a system in the electronic health record to alert clinicians to relevant symptoms or changes in blood parameters related to myeloma.

Explore further: Screening high-risk individuals can reduce multiple myeloma mortality

Related Stories

Screening high-risk individuals can reduce multiple myeloma mortality

March 27, 2018
Multiple myeloma is a rare incurable disease that is diagnosed in more than 30,000 people each year in the United States. Only half of patients with multiple myeloma are expected to survive five years after their diagnosis. ...

International research group publishes updated criteria for diagnosing multiple myeloma

October 27, 2014
The International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) today announced that it has updated the criteria for diagnosing multiple myeloma. A paper outlining the new criteria was published in the journal Lancet Oncology. Multiple myeloma ...

Study lays groundwork for blood test to aid in the detection and monitoring of myeloma

September 30, 2015
Virtually all patients who develop myeloma have an asymptomatic disease called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) in the years before the onset of myeloma. The five-year relative survival rate for myeloma ...

Study shows that choice of medical center impacts life expectancy of multiple myeloma patients

October 26, 2016
People diagnosed with multiple myeloma are more likely to live longer if they are treated at a medical center that sees many patients with this blood cancer. Mayo Clinic researchers published these findings today in the Journal ...

Weight loss may help prevent multiple myeloma

November 18, 2016
New research shows that excess weight increases the risk that a benign blood disorder will progress into multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.

Chip-based blood test for multiple myeloma could make bone biopsies a relic of the past

April 19, 2018
The diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting plasma cells, traditionally forces patients to suffer through a painful bone biopsy. During that procedure, doctors insert a bone-biopsy needle through an ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find adult stem cell characteristics in aggressive cancers from different tissues

September 19, 2018
UCLA researchers have discovered genetic similarities between the adult stem cells responsible for maintaining and repairing epithelial tissues—which line all of the organs and cavities inside the body—and the cells that ...

Colon cancer is caused by bacteria and cell stress

September 19, 2018
Researchers at Technical University Munich have reported findings related to the development of colon cancer. "We originally wanted to study the role of bacteria in the intestines in the development of intestinal inflammation," ...

Eating foods with low nutritional quality ratings linked to cancer risk in large European cohort

September 18, 2018
The consumption of foods with higher scores on the British Food Standards Agency nutrient profiling system (FSAm-NPS), reflecting a lower nutritional quality, is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, according ...

CRISPR screen reveals new targets in more than half of all squamous cell carcinomas

September 18, 2018
A little p63 goes a long way in embryonic development—and flaws in p63 can result in birth defects like cleft palette, fused fingers or even missing limbs. But once this early work is done, p63 goes silent, sitting quietly ...

Could the zika virus fight the brain cancer that killed john McCain?

September 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Preliminary research in mice suggests that the Zika virus might be turned from foe into friend—enlisted to curb deadly glioblastoma brain tumors.

Enlarged genotype-phenotype correlation for a three-base pair deletion in neurofibromatosis type 1

September 18, 2018
International collaborative research led by Ludwine Messiaen, Ph.D., shows that while a three-base pair, in-frame deletion called p.Met992del in the NF1 gene has a mild phenotype for people with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.