As a functional medicine physician, I focus a lot on providing advanced functional testing to diagnose evasive conditions and prevent future problems.
And many patients seek out our care because they are disillusioned or dissatisfied with the standard preventative care options.
I totally understand and share their frustrations—as a patient and as a doctor.
After all, who wants to wait until they have an active cancer, heart disease, or other chronic condition to be diagnosed?
Yet, traditional preventative care options are sometimes so limited that even common things like hypothyroidism, iron deficiency and celiac disease go underdiagnosed.
Fortunately, new technology is changing the face of preventative medicine. And we are thrilled to be on the cutting edge by offering three new diagnostic tests.
Imagine the peace of mind that could come from a simple annual blood test that screens for 50 types of cancer typically not screened for before symptoms arise.
That could mean the difference between catching ovarian, stomach, or pancreatic cancer at stage 1 versus stage 3 or 4.
And what about a test that measures the amount of soft and hard plaque in your arteries before you get diagnosed with heart disease?
Imagine what you could do to change the trajectory of your health with this information!
These tests take preventative and individualized medicine to a whole new level, and I am thrilled to share information on three new cutting-edge preventative tests now available to patients in our functional medicine practice.
1: Galleri: A Blood Test For Early Cancer Diagnosis
What Is It?
As you can probably guess, a test that screens for over 50 types of deadly and rare cancers that typically aren’t screened for during physicals is a big freaking deal.
That’s what the Galleri blood test does.
It’s the first-of-its-kind multi-cancer early detection test that screens for a signal shared by multiple cancers, many of which do not have a recommended screening test.
Galleri is also very precise in identifying where the cancer signal is coming from to help guide next steps.
Plus, it’s just a simple blood test, which means no scans, radiation exposure, or invasive diagnostics.
How Galleri Works
How can a simple blood test detect 50 types of cancer?
Let me explain.
Cancer cells shed a certain type of DNA into your bloodstream, known as cell-free DNA or cfDNA.
The Galleri test detects cancer-specific cell-free DNA in your bloodstream to determine if there are fragments that may have come from cancer cells.
From there, we can determine if there is a cancer signal within your body and where it is coming from.
Clinical studies of over 20,000 people have supported Galleri’s testing method for the accurate detection of early cancer signals in people over age 50.
The Galleri test detects cancer signals from DNA in the blood but does not diagnose cancer.
Information from this test is intended to help healthcare providers determine appropriate follow-up tests to confirm whether cancer is present.
It is not a substitute for other cancer screenings such as a pap smear, colonoscopy, mammography, etc.
Some of the 50+ cancers Galleri screens for include:
- Melanoma of the Skin
- Oral cancers
Who Should Consider Galleri?
Galleri is intended to be used in conjunction with and NOT intended to replace other recommended cancer screenings. So please don’t skip your colonoscopy or mammogram!
With cancer rivaling heart disease as the #1 killer,1 and cancer rates on the rise in women and men of various ages, I would recommend many of our patients consider the Galleri test.
Galleri is available through a medical provider only and is not recommended for individuals under 21 years of age, pregnant women, or those undergoing active cancer treatment.
Galleri’s stats are based on studies that included people ages 50-79 years old. Therefore, this test is generally recommended for people over 50 because of the increased risk of cancer.
However, cancer rates are on the rise in people under age 50. Sadly, a recent study published in BMJ Oncology shows that the global incidence of early-onset cancer has increased by nearly 80% in the past 3 decades.2
So it is perfectly OK—and smart in my opinion, to do a Galleri test if you’re under 50, especially if you have a strong family history of cancers or other risk factors.
Plus, I’ve just seen too many younger people with cancer diagnoses these days not to recommend it.
Have questions? If you’re an active patient please reach out to us via the Patient Portal for individual recommendations and other important details.
2: Prenuvo Full Body MRI
What Is It?
Prenuvo is the latest in full-body radiation-free MRI technology. It’s not available everywhere but will be coming to Denver soon. Currently most of our patients are traveling to Dallas/ Ft Worth, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Prenuvo claims to be the most precise, comprehensive whole-body MRI scan that exists today to provide early and accurate diagnosis of over 500 conditions.
One Prenuvo scan covers 26 regions/organs allowing it to screen for and diagnose more than 500 conditions, including most solid tumors at Stage 1.
Plus, did we mention radiation from the Prenuvo scan is negligible (similar to what you’d get from talking on your cell phone)? This makes it a safer option for various diagnoses and preventative care.
The Prenuvo scan is non-invasive, safe, and provides diagnostic quality images that help eliminate the chance of interpretation mistakes or misdiagnosis.
Once your scan is assessed, you get access to all its images and insights through our educational, easy-to-use dashboard on the online portal and mobile app. Because you can access your scans from anywhere, it’s easy to share your findings with any healthcare practitioner.
Who Should Consider It?
Does everyone need a full-body MRI? Probably not.
However, if you have concerns about unexplained pain, certain genetic predispositions, want overall peace of mind, or like to keep close tabs on your health—a Prenuvo scan could be a wise investment.
If you are an existing patient interested, please contact our office for an exclusive link to receive a $400 discount before scheduling your scan.
This is not available in all markets now but will be available in Denver soon.
3: Coronary Artery Calcium Score and Coronary CT Angiogram Cleerly For Heart Health
Nearly everyone has heard stories about seemingly healthy people who ate well, exercised, got an A+ on all their recommended health screenings, and suddenly suffered a heart attack.
How is this possible?
For starters, cholesterol is not all that matters—it’s just one factor of many that go into heart disease risk. There is also a lot of confusion as to what constitutes a heart-healthy lifestyle, but that’s a topic for another article.
Fortunately, there are now many excellent diagnostics for heart disease and heart disease risk, including the coronary calcium scan and a newer, more comprehensive test that measures different types of plaque that may be building up in the arteries.
The coronary calcium scan, also known as a heart scan, is a specialized X-ray that measures hard plaque in your arteries. This test is affordable (usually less than $100), does not require IV contrast, and exposes you to minimal radiation.
A calculation called the Agatston score will help assess risk. If there is no calcium in the coronary arteries, the score is zero.
If the score is more than zero, we can identify early problems in people with calcified plaque – even if they don’t have symptoms. This typically warrants further work up and referral to a cardiologist.
The coronary artery calcium score is currently the most accessible way to detect silent heart disease and is a strong predictor of future cardiac events. Therefore, I recommend it to many of my patients over 40, especially those with high cholesterol.
However, it does not measure noncalcified soft plaque or plaque stability, which can be problematic.
Enter the coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA).
This test is a thorough evaluation of the presence, amount, and type of plaque in the heart’s arteries.
Images captured in the CCTA exam are processed by Cleerly software—a set of artificial intelligence-based algorithms—and translated into measurements and reports to be reviewed with your provider.
The results of the Cleerly analysis show us:
- How much plaque and which types are in the arteries
- If there is any narrowing of the arteries, also known as stenosis, which can block blood flow
This is huge because it gives us a precise new tool to better analyze a person’s risk for heart attack and provide individualized treatments to address the problem and prevent future issues.
Do You Need a Calcium Score And a CCTA Cleerly Scan? Not Necessarily…
This all depends on your risk factors, including family history, lifestyle, and current state of health.
Also, given that heart disease is the #1 killer of women and men in most states,5 and that about 50% of people who experience a heart attack have zero symptoms beforehand6, in my opinion, most people over 40, and definitely those 50 and over, should consider some sort of specialized imaging.
However, a CCTA scan does expose you to some radiation, IV contrast, and is more expensive than a simple calcium score.
So if you are at low-risk of heart disease, a calcium score may be sufficient. Talk to your provider about this.
If you’re an existing patient, reach out via the Patient Portal for individual recommendations.
I’m a Patient; How Do I Schedule A Test?
Contact us via your Patient Portal to inquire, or talk to Dr. Maren or your provider at your next appointment, and we’ll help you schedule the test(s).
Unsure if you need a specific test but want to learn more?
Our philosophy is always to treat the individual. This one-size-does-not-fit-all approach pertains to treatment programs and preventative care diagnostics.
For example, I (Dr. Maren) have a very low risk of heart disease, so I probably won’t be doing the Cleerly test.
However, I’ve already done the Galleri early cancer screening and plan to do Prenuvo soon.
In other words, although health data is empowering, it does require resources and you may or may not need all these tests.
Reach out now or at your next appointment, and we’ll help you decide if a specific test or tests may be beneficial.
We cannot order these tests for non-members, but if you’re interested in working with Dr. Maren and her team, click here to learn more.
Help Us Spread The Word About These Life-Changing and Life-Saving Tests
As a functional medicine physician, I am forever educating friends, family, neighbors, and complete strangers about the advanced tests that are available for preventative care.
I really do believe the future of medicine lies in early detection and prevention.
Unfortunately, few primary care providers or specialists offer preventative tests, like those discussed today, or advanced functional labs at this point.
This is partly due to the lack of coverage offered by insurance companies who are not incentivized to pay for these preventative tests.
After nearly two decades of working as a physician, I’ve seen the power of tests like these to prevent potentially deadly diseases and inspire people to make the lifestyle changes necessary to transform their health.
Regarding cost, yes, an investment is required, and I wish insurance companies would cover life-saving tests like this.
The unfortunate reality is they are not incentivized to invest in their customer’s long-term health because most “customers” don’t stay with their insurance companies long-term.
However, I predict these tests will eventually become part of standard preventative care and will be less expensive and widely accepted for reimbursement.
For example, genetic testing was very pricey just a few years ago. But now, anyone can order a 23andme test for under $100.00.
Regardless, we’ve got to get the word out there about advanced preventative care testing!
So, I’m asking you, whether you intend to become a patient of our practice or not, please share this article with everyone you know.
- 1 in 3 people is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, with many people receiving a late diagnosis. 7
- 1 in 2 people have heart disease and may or may not be aware of it. 8
- And cancer patients are advised to have multiple CT scans to monitor their health for years or even a lifetime…that’s a whole lot of radiation compared to Prenuvo.
How do we change this trajectory? In my opinion,
- With better education on the role lifestyle plays in health—food, movement, hydration, stress, sleep, community,
- By making integrative functional medicine the standard of care,
- And by getting the word out about innovative new preventative testing options.
You can make a difference by sharing this article today.
Finally, if preventative care and individual medicine like this sound like something you’re interested in (and if you’re in Colorado, Michigan, or Texas), click here to learn more about becoming a patient.
Continuity membership is available after your initial 3-12 months of treatment with our practice. See our “Work With Us” page for more details.
- https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/03/09/serious-mental-illnesses-tied-to-higher-risk-for-heart-attack-and-stroke and obesity increase your risk for heart disease