Included below are news items from the last six months.
Screening to prevent and detect cervical cancer is based on cells being brushed from the cervix into liquid preservative and examined in the laboratory under a microscope (cytology). An alternative testing strategy, screening the cells first for human papilloma virus (HPV), has been shown to lead to the detection of a larger number of treatable pre-cancerous lesions. A follow-up study of 176,464 women who had taken part in four European randomised trials that tested these screening alternatives was published online in The Lancet on 3 November 2013. HPV-based screening was found to provide 60-70% greater protection against the development of invasive cancer of the cervix than cytology-based screening.
In April 2011 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that General Practitioners (GPs) should offer a blood test for CA125 to women with non-specific symptoms suggestive of ovarian cancer; GPs should then arrange for those with raised values to have an ultrasound examination of the abdomen and pelvis. A UK study presented at the recent European Cancer Conference in Amsterdam found that there was nearly a three-fold increase in GP requests for CA125 tests following the recommendation. Most women with raised values were referred for investigation. Although the commonest causes of raised CA125 values were benign gynaecological conditions, nearly 11% were found to have ovarian cancer and nearly as many non-ovarian cancers were identified.
On 3 October 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that faecal calprotectin testing could be used as an option to support clinicians in making the diagnosis of IBD and IBS, in cases where bowel cancer is not suspected.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have recently published guidance on acute kidney injury, (http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG169) a condition that refers to the loss of kidney function over hours or days. Laboratory professionals are working to design a standardised method of electronically alerting healthcare professionals to acute kidney injury.
We are delighted to report that on Thursday 29 August, Lab Tests Online-UK was named website of the week by Dr Miriam Stoppard in her health focus section of the Daily Mirror.
On 7 August 2013 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved the use of a molecular test for use during breast cancer surgery. The technique allows the surgeon to find out whether cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes in the armpit. They are then able to decide whether all the lymph nodes within the armpit should be removed during the same operation, rather than having to wait 5 to 15 days for the results of examination of tissue under a microscope in the laboratory. Early detection of spread can avoid a second operation and allow the early start of treatments such as chemotherapy.
On 6th August, the Daily Mail published an article with the headline “The instant blood test to tell if you really do need antibiotics” which suggested that antibiotic prescribing by GP’s could be dramatically improved by a new test: CRP. Lab Tests Online-UK responds to article to say CRP testing has been available for decades to GP surgeries and is considerably cheaper than the Point of care testing methods described.
On the 17 June 2013 the Daily Mail published an article with the headline ‘Do you catch every bug going? A top-up of fresh blood could be the answer’ reporting on a case of Chronic Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). Lab Tests Online-UK provides a response to the factual errors contained within the article.
Two genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 can be passed on from parent to child and increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Angelina Jolie recently had a double mastectomy after having a positive test for BRCA1. Representatives of 150,000 patients, geneticists and other medical and laboratory professionals recently appealed to the US Supreme court, challenging the validity of the patent held by Myriad Genetics since 1998. On 13 June 2013, the court ruled that the patent is invalid because natural human genes cannot be patented. Tests are likely to now become cheaper and more widely available.