I once heard an oncologist say that we can eradicate cancer death - it just comes down to early detection. The great news is that we have more chances than ever to detect early stage cancer in medical settings - and even at home.
While we cannot fully prevent cancer from forming in our bodies yet, we can help stave it off with good lifestyle choices and commitments. And to boost this “anti-cancer” dedication there are new, widely available tests aimed at early detection so we go a step further.
Of course, you will always want to pair these tests with a visit to a specialist's office for a second opinion and more in-depth testing - especially if you’re having symptoms. At-home testing is not designed to replace in-office diagnostics. But they can be a starting point.
Here are some of the latest cancer-specific tests you can get in addition to your regular in-office screenings and checkups:
70% of cancer deaths are caused by cancers not commonly screened for, that’s why GRAIL has developed Galleri: a single blood test that looks for the “signal” of over 50 types of cancer. Galleri mentions that multi-cancer early detection (MCED) enables you to proactively test for many cancers, increasing the chances of finding cancer early.
You can request the Galleri test in a routine visit with your healthcare provider, or if they do not offer it, it can be ordered via telehealth through the Galleri website. It is intended to be used in addition to and not replace other cancer screening - and it can’t detect all cancer - but this is a revolutionary step in the right direction.
Prenuvo turns healthcare upside down. Rather than wait for symptoms to present and disease to progress, Prenuvo provides early insight into what is going on under the skin. Prenuvo offers contrast-free, full body MRIs - when you want to schedule it. No radiation. No prescription required.
Prenuvo mentions that when you’re armed with detailed health information, you'll be able to make proactive, informed decisions about your health. They have 6 current locations across North America, and 10 coming soon. Prenuvo offers head only, head and torso, and full body MRI options. Read about our experience getting a Prenuvo scan here.
Colon cancer is on the rise - especially in adults under 50. An option for staying on top of your colon health is Cologuard: a non-invasive at-home collection tool to screen for colon cancer. It is targeted at adults aged 45+ at average risk for colorectal cancers. It requires a prescription from a doctor.
Cologuard mentions that it is the first and only test that looks for both abnormal DNA and blood in stool. While less invasive than a colonoscopy, a colonoscopy should be scheduled if you get a positive result - or if you are at heightened risk.
Thermography is a test that uses an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow in body tissues. The idea behind this test is that, as cancer cells multiply, they need more oxygen-rich blood to grow. When blood flow to the tumor increases, the temperature around it rises. It’s considered an early detection indicator that could lead to more detailed testing.
It is radiation free, so some women with dense breast tissue elect to get thermography and ultrasound over a mammogram. While thermography is not as detailed or as powerful as a mammogram or MRI, it can identify areas where inflammation, active infections, or imbalances are occuring. This makes thermography an early detection tool for some cancers, cardiovascular disease, thyroid and digestive disorders, musculoskeletal problems and more. Find an AACT approved Thermology Clinic.
These are not necessarily new testing technologies - but make sure you are getting them regularly and push for them - early detection is the key! Here are tests you need for the most common cancers:
Oral cancers are very serious and do not have great survival rates. Next time you are at the dentist ask for a screen. This typically involves using a special blue dye or light to detect abnormalities.
Mammogram (annually at 40+ years old), ultrasounds (any age!), MRI if high-risk (annually)
Pap smear for cervical cancer and HPV (annually) and request a transvaginal ultrasound during your annual pelvic exam for ovarian health.
Ask for a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.
If you are 50+ or you are having symptoms, ask for low-dose computed tomography (also called a LDCT). It’s a low-dose X-ray that makes detailed images of your lungs.
We are lucky enough to live during a time where testing is getting better and more accurate - take advantage of it! To read about the general guidelines for cancer screenings by age, check out the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.