Prevention with Hematopathology
- Blood tests are used for preventive measures: Especially in identifying those seeking immunity via vaccination/immunizations, those at genetic risk for inherited disorders, and those at high risk for diabetes, heart disease, or sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs), among many others.
- Post-immunization evaluation: After immunization, the presence of antibodies can demonstrate immunity to disease, but their absence can warn of immunization failure and disease susceptibility, important in protection from various infectious diseases for which vaccines are available. Their effectiveness can be measured.
- Glucose screening: Diabetes mellitus, both Type 1 DM and Type 2 DM, can be suspected, diagnosed, and then have its progress and management monitored with glucose levels in the blood. Once there is a diagnosis, the glycated hemoglobin A1c is a very useful test that renders an assessment of glycemic control over the previous months; it is used preventatively as a predictor for worsening disease or successful management.
- Titers: Titers are quantitative measurements of specific items that are determined by diluting blood samples until there are none of them left (by laboratory standards). The number of dilutions needed to do this quantitates an item, and its specific score—or, titer—is determined. A large amount of something will require many more dilutions than a small amount before it can no longer be counted in a sample. This is useful in determining immunity by seeing how far the dilutions go while still having antibodies after a vaccination for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, etc. Not only can it determine that there is or is not immunity there, but it can also indicate borderline immunity when the titers fall into a less than optimum range.
Titers can also quantitate disease presence. This technique can be used to estimate the antibody amount that fluctuates in accordance to disease severity. For example, in syphilis, the dilutions that show disappearance of antibodies sooner indicate ongoing eradication of disease.
- Genetic risk: Titers can also be used in assigning genetic risk with protein markers such as for prenatal risk of Down syndrome and other congenital diseases.
- Genetic studies: Useful in pregnancy and in persons who have a strong family history of inherited disorders, add an important perspective in preventative care.
- Cancer screening: There are “tumor markers” for ovarian cancer (CA-125), prostate-specific antigen (PSA, for prostate cancer), calcitonin (thyroid testing), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP, for liver cancer), HCG for testicular or ovarian cancer, and others. They are not proof, but are useful in selecting out of the general population those who should undergo more specific testing.