A regular blood test could possibly
High levels of calcium in blood, a condition known as hypercalcaemia, can be used by GPs as an early indication of certain types of cancer, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer. Hypercalcaemia is the most common metabolic disorder associated with cancer, occurring in 10 to 20 per cent of people with cancer. While its connection to cancer is well known, this study has shown that often it can predate the diagnosis of cancer in primary care.
The research analysed the electronic records of patients who had elevated levels of calcium and looked at how many of them went on to receive a cancer diagnosis. Analysis of the data from 54,000 patients found that in men, even mild hypercalcaemia conferred a risk of cancer in one year of 11.5 per cent. If the calcium was above 2.8 mmol l−1, the risk increased to 28 per cent. In women, the risks were much less.
In men, 81 per cent of the cancer associated with hypercalcaemia was caused by lung, prostate, myeloma, colorectal and other haematological cancers. In women, cancer was much less common.
The research is part of the Discovery Programme which aims to transform the diagnosis of cancer and prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year. If successful, the programme should transform the diagnosis of cancer and prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year. The programme objectives are to design and test new service pathways to cancer diagnosis which are based on sound medical evidence, make efficient use of resources to take full account of patient views.