Leeches, trepanning and mercury pills: could blood tests soon join the history of medicine?
There’s no doubt whatsoever that blood tests and invasive procedures have the potential to negatively impact on our health, not least the fear of needles. We ask whether this might soon be a thing of the past. Could breath overtake blood as the primary source of medical data in the next ten years?
There are a myriad of stories of people having to go through almost constant and often traumatic blood tests drawn from veins during treatment and diagnosis. Chemotherapy, as an example, can cause the collapse of veins in cancer patients as doctors try to keep track of liver and kidney function that are often damaged by the treatment.
It’s a fact, however, that the majority of current diagnosis methods rely on the use of blood tests and invasive biopsies to accurately diagnose serious illnesses. Of course, these illnesses rely on early diagnosis for survivability, with survival rates varying from 90% to 10%. However, it is also estimated that around 5% of people have a phobia of blood, and that 15% have a phobia of needles. These figures are also likely to be higher than reported as people with the phobias are much more likely to avoid visiting the doctor altogether. This reluctance to get diagnosed is likely have a marked impact on survival rates.
If these tests could be performed non-invasively and without the use of blood or needles it seems more than likely that more people will visit the doctor and take screening and diagnostic tests.
Research from ANCON Medical has shown that around 50% of the UK have not visited a doctor in up to five years with 4.3million avoiding the doctor despite currently suffering from serious symptoms. Improving these figures could undoubtedly save lives, and offering patients a non-invasive option for diagnosis could help make visiting the doctor far less stressful and easier.
ANCON Medical are currently developing technology that diagnoses lung cancer through a patient’s breath in as little as 10 minutes. The technology will later be extended to include over 400 over diseases and be able to track organ function other markers that are currently tested through taking blood.
Time will tell whether this form of testing becomes the go-to for practitioners and clinicians, but it has all the signs of becoming a real game-changer… and potentially a life saver too.