The importance of Advanced health assessments and it’s life-saving effects
Dr Garry Savin, Programme Director of Health Assessments at Lumen, part of UME Health, explains the importance of health screening in detecting early-stage cancers and how due to a recent health screening, a stage one prostate cancer was identified in a client of his, which enabled early curative surgery.
Early diagnosis is key in most cancers
Unfortunately, cancer cases continue to grow across the UK, exerting significant physical and emotional strain on individuals, families, and across society. Statistics show that about 1 in 2 of us will develop a cancer in our lifetimes. According to Cancer Research UK, only half of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK currently survive their disease for ten years or more, and cancer is often detected too late, which is why early detection is very important.
When cancer is identified early, the chance of surviving it usually significantly increases, as successful treatment to remove it and reduce the chance of spread is increased. Cancer is categorised into stages and in most cases, a cancer diagnosed early at stage one has a far better prognosis than say a stage 3 or 4 cancer which has spread to other parts of the body and has by then usually started to cause symptoms.
Early diagnosis of cancer, usually way before symptoms occur, is therefore critical, so that treatment can begin much sooner whilst the cancer is small and hasn’t spread. We know that very often this significantly improves an individual’s chance of a cure and of avoiding more aggressive surgeries and therapies.
The importance of an advanced health assessment in early cancer diagnosis
At our Lumen advanced health assessments, one of our key aims is to try to detect cancers in their earliest stages and in order to do so we combine physical examinations, physiological tests, and very importantly, high resolution advanced scans such as ultrasound, MRI and CT to detect the presence of cancers early, sometimes at a very small size. A good example of this was a recent client who undertook our highest-level health assessment for reassurance, and we discovered some critical results which led to the diagnosis of a potentially fatal cancer.
How a health assessment enabled our client to get early cancer treatment
Our client was a successful businessman, who at the time had no changes in symptoms or major conditions which significantly affected his health. During his health assessment, one of his blood tests, the PSA, was found to be very marginally elevated and he was then referred to a leading urologist, who was able to see him on the same day. Once he was seen by the urologist, a further detailed multiparametric MRI of his prostate was also organised and performed at our centre, which showed a very small focus of suspicion within the right lobe of his prostate.
Our client was advised to have a repeat multiparametric prostate scan after a small interval to assess the focal area of concern, and shortly after this second MRI scan, he underwent ultrasound guided targeted prostate biopsies where 34 samples were taken from his prostate gland and sent for analysis. The histology results showed the presence of prostate cancer in 3 of the samples, which were alarmingly found to be a high-grade prostate cancer under the microscope. He then had further PET CT scans which showed that the cancer had not spread to other organs, and he was advised of his treatment options to treat the prostate cancer after his case was discussed by a meeting of experienced specialists.
One of the recommended options was a radical prostatectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the entire prostate gland. After deliberation, our client chose this option and underwent his surgery in a centre of excellence abroad, whereby we liaised with his surgical team over there. The operation went smoothly and was successful. The cancer was confirmed to be present only in a small area of the prostate gland and had not spread to the adjacent lymph node which were all clear, consistent with our original MRI images. This intervention meant that all of the cancer was removed at a very early stage before it could spread further, essentially curing him.
If our client did not have his health screening when he did, the outcome could have been very different, as most prostate cancers only cause symptoms when the cancer has been present for some time and grown large enough to spread to other organs or the bones. We were extremely pleased that our advanced health screening programme enabled early diagnosis of a potentially fatal condition which led to a cure at the earliest possible stage.