Calcium in the blood could provide an early warning of certain cancers, especially in men, research has shown. Even slightly raised blood levels of calcium in men was associated with an increased risk of cancer diagnosis within one year.

The discovery, reported in the British Journal of Cancer, raises the prospect of a simple blood test to aid the early detection of cancer in high risk patients. Hypercalcaemia – a higher than normal calcium reading – was associated with a wide range of cancers, chiefly lung, prostate, breast, bowel, and those affecting the blood such as leukaemia and myeloma.

While the condition was already known to occur in up to a fifth of cancer patients, this is the first time it has been shown to pre-date diagnosis.

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