Seems like the array of medical tests increases daily. Our friends at AARP published their list of the newest generation of tests that are game changers backed by real science. Here are the 6 tests that identify who’s at risk for certain diseases as well as determine the best treatment. For the complete article written by Margery D. Rosen in the AARP Bulletin, click here.
1. Less-guess prostate test
Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a tough choice among a range of options: from surgical removal of the prostate — difficulty with urination and impotence can be side effects — to watchful waiting. The Oncotype DX prostate cancer test is making the decision easier. By analyzing genetic information in a biopsy, the test distinguishes between slow-growing tumors that warrant regular monitoring and faster-growing tumors that demand immediate treatment.
2. Meds and genes
Medications affect people in different ways. "By analyzing each person's genetic code, it's now possible to predict which drugs will work best for each patient and which ones are ineffective and possibly dangerous," says Dietrich Stephan, M.D., a professor and chairman of the department of human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
The Food and Drug Administration has posted on its website more than 150 medications for which DNA screenings can help avert futile treatments or adverse reactions and determine optimal dosages.
3. Blood simple
Elizabeth Holmes, a 31-year-old Stanford University dropout and self-made billionaire, vowed to revolutionize the field of blood testing — and she's doing it, one pinprick at a time. With a few drops drawn from a poke in your fingertip, the formula patented by Holmes' company, Theranos, can perform more than 200 blood tests — from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated DNA analyses. Theranos delivers results to doctors within a few hours. What's more, the cost is a fraction of what competing labs charge.
4. Dreading that colonoscopy?
Some people have a new alternative: the PillCam COLON2. Recently approved by the FDA, it's a disposable, battery-run video camera in a capsule you swallow. Traveling through you for up to 10 hours, the PillCam transmits high-speed color pictures of its journey to a recording device, attached to a belt around your waist, which relays those images for your doctor's review. For now, the PillCam is available only for people who can't have a traditional colonoscopy.
5. Heart trouble ahead?
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have found a correlation between people's level of a substance called TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide) and cardiovascular trouble. In a study, those with the highest levels of TMAO — produced when you digest choline, found in eggs, red meat and dairy products — had double the risk of death, heart attack and stroke compared to those with the lowest levels. "But with this test, we can give them personalized nutrition information so they can begin to make heart-healthy food choices," says Roizen, author of the book This Is Your Do-Over. The Cleveland Clinic expects TMAO tests to be commercially available this year.
6. Your personal ECG
AliveCor Heart Monitor (about $75), ECG Check by Cardiac Designs (about $129) and similar monitors use your smartphone to record an accurate electrocardiogram (ECG) and send it to your doctor. You simply attach a thin device with built-in sensors onto the back of your phone and download a free app. With a smartphone handy, you can whip it out at the first sign of light-headedness or heart palpitations and simply rest your fingers on the sensors.
Dean & Draper
We hope that you will find this new information about medical tests useful. At Dean & Draper, we are here to answer your questions about your health insurance and to guide you through purchasing the insurance you need.