A Simple Blood Test May Predict Your Cancer Risk
A blood test you have probably had many times in your life is an accurate predictor of future cancer risk. This blood test is just as accurate at predicting any type of cancer as a lump is for breast cancer. Researchers have said it’s the most promising detection method for cancer in the last 30 years.
Platelets are tiny blood cells that help wounds to clot. Having an abnormally high number of platelets in your blood is strongly linked with increased cancer incidence long before symptoms become apparent. Having too many platelets is referred to as thrombocytosis (while having not enough platelets is called thrombocytopenia).
According to one of the researchers in this finding, Willie Hamilton from the University of Exeter in the UK, “Our findings on thrombocytosis show a strong association with cancer, particularly in men – far stronger than that of a breast lump for breast cancer in women. It is now crucial that we roll out cancer investigation of thrombocytosis. It could save hundreds of lives each year”.
In order to come to this conclusion, researchers analysed 31,261 health records of patients in the UK with thrombocytosis and 7,969 records of patients whose platelet levels were normal. They discovered that 11.6 percent of males with thrombocytosis went on to be diagnosed with cancer within a year, compared to 4.1 percent of people without thrombocytosis. In females cancer developed in 6.2 percent with thrombocytosis and 2.2 percent without. If a second blood test showed high platelet levels within six months, the risks were even higher: 18.1 percent for males and 10.1 percent for females.
Lung and colorectal cancer were most strongly linked with elevated platelets. These types of cancer are notoriously difficult to treat because they are usually only discovered quite late in the piece. Knowing your platelet count could give you a life saving opportunity to have cancer detected and treated at the earliest stage. A platelet blood test is a standard part of a full blood count, which checks red and white blood cells.