Cancer scare: round two

 Posted by on 2013-11-17 at 7:31 pm
Nov 172013
 

logo for the AMAS early detection cancer screening test, by OncolabThe AMAS early detection cancer test (Anti-Malignin Antibody in Serum) is an odd duck. Health consultant Jonathan Campbell recommended it, back when I had my first cancer scare three years ago. The test has some very specific requirements for collection, including overnight shipping to the only lab that performs the test, with the serum packed in dry ice. Two previous attempts to have this done were unsuccessful, and I eventually stopped thinking about it until recent comprehensive stool analysis tests reported low levels of the pancreatic enzyme elastase.

Correlations between low levels (of elastase) and chronic pancreatitis and cancer have been reported.

Normal elastase levels are >200. My levels have been reported as low in all three CSAs done this year. In February it was 135, in June it was 136, and in September it had dropped to 102, or about half of the minimum level. Now, I have speculated about these low levels in a previous post, where I observed that elastase is a protease enzyme, and I have taken protease inhibitors in the past, and am doing so now.  However, the lowest levels reported this year occurred after I had been off of the PI for several months, so that suspicion itself is now suspect.

During my last visit to the Riordan Clinic, I was able to have a successful serum draw, and the result was waiting for me when I returned home from Houston last week. “Elevated. Confirmatory repeat test recommended.”

How reliable is the AMAS test? According to Oncolab, the only lab that performs the test, AMAS is 95% accurate in early detection of cancer, though it is not specific to any particular type of cancer. AMAS’ specificity rises to 99% when a second confirmatory test is also elevated.

All of the data, from both Bogoch et al. (ref 04) and from the independent study performed by Smith-Kline Laboratories (ref 06) support the fact that the AMA (Anti-Malignin Antibody) is elevated almost regardless of the site or cell type of the malignancy; that is, AMA is a general transformation antibody, not just for one particular kind of cancer. For sera shipped overnight, false positives are 5 percent and false negatives 7 percent (3,315 double-blind tests of patients and controls, (ref 04,06,08) .

AMAS has more than a handful of critics, though, on both sides of the alternative medicine divide. Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known advocate of alternative medicine, writes of the AMAS test:

Please remember that genuinely worthwhile medical tests for serious diseases quickly become well known. The fact that this one has been around as long as it has without getting the attention of physicians who treat cancer and researchers who study it indicates that it is of little value. If the AMAS test works as its promoters say it does, it would long ago have been bought up by a major manufacturer and sold aggressively to the medical community.

Cancer Research UK reports:

This test is not accepted by cancer specialists because of a lack of evidence that it is reliable. Some commercial companies still promote the AMAS test. They say that the test may help doctors learn more about the stage of their patients cancer and their outcome (prognosis). But there is no research evidence to support this claim. It is not safe for doctors to use the AMAS test alone to diagnose cancer. And it hasn’t been tested as a screening tool for the population in general so it is not safe to use it to screen people with no symptoms for cancer.

On the other hand, the test has passed muster for approval by both the FDA, and Medicare—which is no mean feat.

<deep sigh>

Once again, the choice and the decisions are mine alone to make. I have an appointment to see a doctor I really liked at the Cancer Center of Kansas City, to get his opinion, and I will be having another blood draw for the confirmatory test.

Cancer risks aside, I am getting conflicting advice from various alternative healers about how I am dealing with chronic illness in general. My acupuncturist thinks I’m taking too many supplements, and that I would achieve greater benefits at lower cost from Chinese herbs. I admit that I’m getting really tired of taking fistfuls of nutritional supplements, and that his message actually resonates with me. The orthomolecular folks are recommending that I resume ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI), though I’m not convinced it was efficacious in the past. It’s also a long and expensive slog to drive across Kansas to the clinic to get the treatments done.

I will continue to gather information and recommendations before making any drastic changes to my current protocol, and I plan to continue taking low-dose darunavir monotherapy (no Norvir) for now.

On a related note, I have also ordered a bottle of Dew Drops, a concentrated oil made from cannabis, containing Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a cannabinoid, but does not cause the “high” that THC gives. As such, it is apparently legal to purchase and use anywhere in the U.S. I’ve tried smoking some so-called “medical marijuana”, and I find the high to be unpleasant. Besides, no one will ever convince me that putting smoke of any kind into my lungs is healthy.

Stay tuned.

  One Response to “Cancer scare: round two”

  1.  

    Jonathan, my heart goes out to you and Michael during all this. I really hope the test is completely wrong. Big hugs!

    I am reminded of something Gos used to say when doctors would say, “Do this to cure yourself”, all they really want is to keep you sick to get more of your money. I don’t know how true that is. I think there are some practitioners out there who truly want to help and heal, but finding them is the trick. My best wishes to you to find the ones that just want to heal you. Trust your judgement and go with what you think will be best for you no matter what anyone else says.

Leave a Reply