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Calcium tests to detect cancer?

Friday September 26th, 2014

Blood tests for high calcium levels could be used to detect a range of cancers at an early stage, researchers have revealed.

The test could be used by GPs, according to a study by British academics.

High calcium levels - or hypercalcaemia - are known to be linked to cancer.

But the new research suggests the problem can occur in the early stages of disease - and that people with high calcium levels face a high risk of having cancer.

A study in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that even slightly raised calcium levels are linked to an 11.5% increased risk of cancer in men.

High levels were linked to a 28% increased risk. There was a less strong link among women patients.

The study found that 81% of the cancers detected by this means would be cancers of the lung and prostate together with a range of blood cancers and colorectal cancer.

Researcher Dr Fergus Hamilton, of Bristol University, said he was surprised at the difference between men and women.

He said: "There are a number of possible explanations for this but we think it might be because women are much more likely to have hyperparathyroidism, another cause of hypercalcaemia. Men rarely get this condition, so their hypercalcaemia is more likely to be due to cancer."

He added: "All previous studies on hypercalcaemia and cancer had been carried out with patients who had already been diagnosed with cancer - hypercalcaemia was seen as a late effect of the cancer.

"We wanted to look at the issue from a different perspective and find out if high calcium levels in blood could be used as an early indicator of cancer and therefore in the diagnosis of cancer."

The risk of cancer in primary care patients with hypercalcaemia: a cohort study using electronic records. British Journal of Cancer 26 September 2014

Tags: Cancer | Menís Health | UK News

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