The Diagnosis Dilemma – How quick do I know?

One of the greatest challenges currently facing doctors, is how to best diagnose a patient’s condition, quickly and efficiently.

Doctors are very busy people and often a visit to your GP will be managed on a timetable of either 5 or 10 minute meetings. So in reality they do not have much time available to be directly involved in the tests needed. This is a driving force in current research into diagnosis – How can we do this rapidly and accurately? Here time is key as some of these tests would have a huge health benefit if the results were immediate. Money is also important. A diagnostic test needs to be simple and cheap. Efficient and rapid diagnosis can have long term effects on our economy by reducing unnecessary treatment costs.

When we discuss diagnosis, scientists now exploit the term “Biomarkers” to generally describe the subject of a specific test.

Wikipedia defines a biomarker as anything that can be used as an indicator of a particular disease state or some other physiological state of an organism. We discuss them in more detail here.

Biomarkers have been used in medicine for decades but have not always been described using such terminology. Some examples of well defined biomarkers include determining your glucose levels if you are diabetic or in the diagnosis of Cancer. What each of these tests look for are SPECIFIC BIOMARKERS associated with the reason you are being screened. Glucose is a sugar found in your blood and different types of cancers can be told apart.

Leading the Way Focus: During our time with you we will be considering the importance of knowing the physical shape of biomarkers and how this can help us detect them.

Discussion points: How quick would you want a result? Would you always want an immediate response? are you prepared to wait? Can you think of any other examples of BIOMARKERS?

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