Early Cancer Indicators | Part I

Cancer doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes several years before one begins experiencing symptoms. 

If one catches cancer early enough, they can save themselves thousands of dollars in healthcare spending and innumerable pain and suffering. Early detection is ultimately what we need to better control and prevent cancers from becoming too risky

True, conventional mammography and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing have advanced detection of specific cancers.  The problem is these diagnostic tests have lower-than-desired sensitivity and specificity, a criteria critical for early-stage cancer detection.

Typically, cancer is not diagnosed or treated until cancer cells have already begun invading the surrounding tissue and metastasized throughout the body. It's estimated that 60% of patients with breast, ovarian, colon, and lung cancer have hidden or overt metastatic colonies at presentation. As you may know, conventional therapies are limited in their success once a tumor cell has traveled beyond its tissue of origin (Wulfkuhle et al., 2003). At this point, we may be too late in the game. 

Cancer begins with a structural change in our DNA called methylation. DNA methylation, a covalent chemical modification resulting in addition of a methyl (—CH3) group at the carbon 5’ position of the cytosine ring in CpG dinucleotides, is one of the most consistent epigenetic changes observed in human cancers (Delcuve et al., 2009). The environmental factor triggering the DNA change can be either physical (ie., exposure to pollution, toxins, pesticides, heavy metals) or mental (exposure to chronic stress). 


Fast ways to detect rapidly replicating cancer cells:

Doctors like to look for biomarkers to detect and monitor cancer. Biomarkers give insight to the physiological status of a cell at a moment in time and reflect how cells change throughout the disease process. Genetic mutations, alterations in gene transcription and translation, and changes in the’s gene’s protein products can all possibly serve as specific biomarkers for disease (Srinivas et al., 2001; Sidransky, 2002). 

Decades ago, the discovery that free DNA was present in the serum of cancer patients initiated the process that resulted in today's serum tests for cancer detection (Sidransky, 2002). The only problem was that non-tumor cells also shed DNA into serum, so cancer-specific changes can be virtually impossible to detect above the large background of wild-type DNA.  

DNA methylation alterations are hallmarks of the pre-cancer. The following image by Kanai (2010) demonstrates how environmental factors such as chronic inflammation, persistent infections, cigarette smoking, exposure to chemical carcinogens (i.e. pesticides, food additives, heavy metal, animal protein, alcohol, etc.) cause DNA methylation and hence, trigger cancer. 

Increased Heat Production 

Tissue adjacent to cancer exhibit increased temperature compared to non-adjacent, non cancerous areas. The elevated temperature is a product of accelerated metabolism of cancer cells.  Increased blood flow to the cancer cells allows more nutrients and oxygen to be delivered so that they can rapidly grow (DeBan et al., 1994).

The primary reason we use Thermography at SF Advanced Health is to detect variances in body temperature in order to detect inflammation and cancer in the early stages of disease development. Thermography gives us a chance to observe the body’s mechanics in real-time, by observing thermal changes and hot-spots. 

How does thermography work? Via an infrared camera it observe the blood flow and heat patterns through various bodily tissues.  Thermography is an excellent adjunct diagnostic tool to see the inner workings of the body.  Adjunct means it is used in conjunction, but as a replacement with other imaging scans.  There is also no risk of exposure to damaging radiation or contrast iodine dyes, unlike with CT scans, mammograms, and x-rays.

Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health.

Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concern.  We help our patients reverse disease by better understanding how the body optimally functions and provide personalized treatment plans.  To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.


DeBan, A. F., Tumey, D. M., Reeves, J. W., McQuain, D. B., Reeves, W. H., Reeves, C. C., & Aboujaoude, E. D. (1994). U.S. Patent No. 5,301,681. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Delcuve, G. P., Rastegar, M., & Davie, J. R. (2009). Epigenetic control. Journal of cellular physiology, 219(2), 243-250.

Kanai, Y. (2010). Genome‐wide DNA methylation profiles in precancerous conditions and cancers. Cancer science, 101(1), 36-45.

Sidransky, D. (2002). Emerging molecular markers of cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer, 2(3), 210.

Srinivas, P. R., Kramer, B. S., & Srivastava, S. (2001). Trends in biomarker research for cancer detection. The lancet oncology, 2(11), 698-704.

Wulfkuhle, J. D., Liotta, L. A., & Petricoin, E. F. (2003). Early detection: proteomic applications for the early detection of cancer. Nature reviews cancer, 3(4), 267.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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