September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and HerMD is doing our part by highlighting a crucial-yet-largely underutilized multi-cancer early detection test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer: the Galleri® test. The Galleri® test is unique in that it is the only test of its kind on the market to screen for multiple cancers at once. Dr. Somi Javaid, Founder and Chief Medical Officer of HerMD, provides a comprehensive review of the Galleri® test and its groundbreaking platform below. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of the Galleri® test, how cancer can impact an individual’s sexual function, and the work our friends at Alula are doing to enhance the health and well-being of individuals managing the side effects of cancer-related treatments.
Dr. Javaid recommends annual use of the Galleri® test in adults with a high risk of cancer, such as those who are aged 50+ years. “The Galleri® test can also be offered to patients who are negative for genetic mutations but have a strong family history of cancer,” Dr. Javaid says. Using a single blood test, the Galleri® test examines the DNA in your bloodstream, looking for cancer signals within the DNA. If a cancer signal is detected, Dr. Javaid continues, “the test is able to predict with 90% accuracy where in the body the cancer cells may have originated from.” “The Galleri® test has the capability to screen many types of cancers earlier, such as those that do not have screening tests, or those that are generally rarer or more lethal, like ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Generally, these cancers are not discovered until symptoms appear, which happens later in the disease process. Early detection allows for earlier treatment intervention, optimizing health outcomes,” Dr. Javaid notes.
Generally, Galleri® test results will be available 2 weeks after a scheduled blood draw. Providers will interpret the results by evaluating an individual’s medical history along with clinical findings. Dr. Javaid explains, “results are separated into two categories: ‘No Cancer Signal Detected’ and ‘Cancer Signal Detected.’ A result of ‘No Cancer Signal Detected’ does not rule out cancer. A result of ‘Cancer Signal Detected’ requires diagnostic evaluation to confirm a cancer diagnosis. It should be noted that false-positive results (a cancer signal is detected when cancer is not present) and false-negative results (a cancer signal is not detected when cancer is present) do occur.” For more details on testing, click here.
A cancer diagnosis at any time in the life cycle can be scary. Individuals who undergo treatment for cancer can experience many treatment-related side effects that can impact quality of life. Issues with sexual function, such as problems with desire and arousal, and increased pain, are common. On the HerVoice podcast, Dr. Somi Javaid, alongside Chief Growth Officer, Komel Caruso, spoke with Liya Shuster-Bier, CEO and founder of Alula, a digital resource with the platform to “make life with cancer liveable.” Liya begins by explaining her shock at the lack of education about the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on the reproductive process. “We know this is a problem for millions of patients and not just women, by the way,” she notes.
Dr. Javaid, explaining in more detail the impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on an individual’s sexual health, goes on to say that part of her job is to “kick cancer out of the bedroom. It doesn’t belong there. My patients do not want to feel like a cancer survivor in the bedroom. They want ownership of that part of their life back.” Liya points out that, “women have a 34% higher risk of severe side effects from cancer treatments than men do. This impacts you from head to toe.” To listen to the full podcast, click here.
Cancer screening is a necessary and potentially life-saving modality. With innovative testing such as the Galleri® test, there is promise for early cancer detection and potential to improve health outcomes. For individuals with a cancer diagnosis undergoing treatment, there are resources available, such as the Alula platform, to help manage unpleasant side effects. If you are experiencing sexual issues due to cancer or cancer treatment, you do not just have to “live with it.” There are treatment options available to you so that you can regain intimacy and control of your own sexuality.
To learn more, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today.