Dementia: Cancer scanner ‘could help early diagnoses’

BBC News | 22 February 2020 | Dementia: Cancer scanner ‘could help early diagnoses’

A cancer scanner could be used to identify some of the earliest and most difficult to diagnose forms of dementia, scientists have said.

Doctors at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff said its PET scanner could show signs of the condition in people who are not showing symptoms.

About 47% of people in Wales living with dementia do not have a diagnosis.

The Welsh Government said it is investing £10m a year in its dementia action plan (Source: BBC News).

The full story is available from BBC News 



New life-saving treatment and diagnosis technology

Diseases could be detected even before people experience symptoms, thanks to a pioneering new health-data programme as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy

Businesses and charities are expected to jointly invest up to £160 million, alongside a £79 million government investment, as part of the Accelerating Detection of Disease programme. The project will support research, early diagnosis, prevention and treatment for diseases including cancer, dementia and heart disease.

The pioneering initiative will recruit up to 5 million healthy people. Volunteered data from the individuals will help UK scientists and researchers invent new ways to detect and prevent the development of diseases.

Full story: UK to innovate new life-saving treatment and diagnosis technology | Department of Health & Social Care

Adapt films – providing support for people newly diagnosed

YoungDementia UK is launching three films to help educate and inform people about young onset dementia. We hope our Adapt films will be of particular use and interest to people who have been newly diagnosed and those who support them.

The first three films in the collection feature people affected by the condition discussing – Being a parent, Employment and keeping active and Who and how to tell:

Adapt – Being a parent features people affected by young onset dementia discussing how they shared the news of their diagnosis with their children, how they reacted and the impact the diagnosis has had on their family relationships.


Adapt – Who & how to tell features people affected by young onset dementia discussing how they shared the news of their diagnosis with family and friends.  They talk about how people reacted to the news and share advice for others in a similar situation.


Adapt – Employment & keeping active features people affected by young onset dementia discussing how the condition had an impact on their working lives and what they do now to keep active and engaged.

The films were funded by DEEP and the Shanly Foundation and are available for use by anyone who would like to share them, particularly at training courses, events and conferences.

Full detail at YoungDementia UK

Monthly announcement of national dementia diagnosis rate

National dementia diagnosis rates (DDR) for November 2018 have now been published and can be found on the NHS Digital website.

This publication includes the rate of dementia diagnosis. As not everyone with dementia has a formal diagnosis, this statistic compares the number of people thought to have dementia with the number of people diagnosed with dementia, aged 65 and over.

This publication is the first to include the count of people with a diagnosis of dementia who have had a medication review in the preceding 12 months.

Key Facts


Full detail: Recorded Dementia Diagnoses – November 2018

Alzheimer’s one day may be predicted during eye exam

Using technology similar to what is found in many eye doctors’ offices, researchers have detected evidence suggesting Alzheimer’s in older patients who had no symptoms of the disease | JAMA Ophthalmology | Story via ScienceDaily


Significant brain damage from Alzheimer’s disease can occur years before any symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive decline appear. Scientists estimate that Alzheimer’s-related plaques can build up in the brain two decades before the onset of symptoms, so researchers have been looking for ways to detect the disease sooner.

In a new study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology,  researchers used a noninvasive technique — called optical coherence tomography angiography — to examine the retinas in eyes of 30 study participants with an average age in the mid 70s, none of whom exhibited clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s. One of the authors of the study says “This technique has great potential to become a screening tool that helps decide who should undergo more expensive and invasive testing for Alzheimer’s disease prior to the appearance of clinical symptoms.”

In previous studies, researchers examining the eyes of people who had died from Alzheimer’s have reported that the eyes of such patients showed signs of thinning in the center of the retina and degradation of the optic nerve.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: O’Bryhim BE et al. | Association of Preclinical Alzheimer Disease With Optical Coherence Tomographic Angiography Findings | JAMA Ophthalmology | August 23rd 2018

Clock drawing cognitive test should be done routinely in patients with high blood pressure

A clock drawing test for detecting cognitive dysfunction should be conducted routinely in patients with high blood pressure according to latest research | European Society of Cardiology | via ScienceDaily

Patients with high blood pressure who have impaired cognitive function are at increased risk of developing dementia within five years. Despite this known link, cognitive function is not routinely measured in patients with high blood pressure. Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2018 suggests the clock drawing test should be adopted as a routine screening tool for cognitive decline in patients with high blood pressure.


The Heart-Brain study evaluated the usefulness of the clock drawing test compared to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) to detect cognitive impairment.  For the clock drawing test, patients were given a piece of paper with a 10 cm diameter circle on it. They were asked to write the numbers of the clock in the correct position inside the circle and then draw hands on the clock indicating the time “twenty to four.”

The researchers found a higher prevalence of cognitive impairment with the clock drawing test (36%) compared to the MMSE (21%).

Full story at ScienceDaily



Identifying dementia cases with routinely collected health data

This review finds that routinely collected health-care data sets have the potential to be a cost-effective and comprehensive method of identifying dementia cases in prospective studies | Alzheimer’s & Dementia


Prospective, population-based studies can be rich resources for dementia research. Follow-up in many such studies is through linkage to routinely collected, coded health-care data sets. We evaluated the accuracy of these data sets for dementia case identification.

We systematically reviewed the literature for studies comparing dementia coding in routinely collected data sets to any expert-led reference standard. We recorded study characteristics and two accuracy measures—positive predictive value (PPV) and sensitivity.

We identified 27 eligible studies with 25 estimating PPV and eight estimating sensitivity. Study settings and methods varied widely. For all-cause dementia, PPVs ranged from 33%–100%, but 16/27 were >75%. Sensitivities ranged from 21% to 86%. PPVs for Alzheimer’s disease (range 57%–100%) were generally higher than those for vascular dementia (range 19%–91%).

Linkage to routine health-care data can achieve a high PPV and reasonable sensitivity in certain settings. Given the heterogeneity in accuracy estimates, cohorts should ideally conduct their own setting-specific validation.

Full reference: Wilkinson, T. et al. | Identifying dementia cases with routinely collected health data: A systematic review | Alzheimer’s & Dementia | August 2018 | Volume 14, Issue 8, Pages 1038–1051

Recorded Dementia Diagnoses

Recorded Dementia Diagnoses – July 2018 | NHS Digital

NHS Digital collects and publishes data about people with dementia at each GP practice, so that the NHS (GPs and commissioners) can make informed choices about how to plan their services around their patients needs.

This publication includes the rate of dementia diagnosis. As not everyone with dementia has a formal diagnosis, this statistic compares the number of people thought to have dementia with the number of people diagnosed with dementia, aged 65 and over.

Full detail at NHS Digital


Black men receiving less dementia diagnoses than white peers

Homecare| July 2018 | Black men receiving less dementia diagnoses than white peers

Data presented at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)  in Chicago last month, shows that black males are 11 per cent less likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia. This is despite dementia having a higher prevalence in black men than white males. Researchers from University College London, King’s College London are behind the research findings. 


Dr Doug Brown, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“This research adds flesh to the bones of a worrying pattern we’re starting to see in the UK. Black men are receiving fewer diagnoses than white men, despite prevalence being higher amongst black men.“Everyone has the right to know what condition they have and the right to the care and support they need. A dementia diagnosis gives people an answer and access to this. It is vital that everyone has equal access to a diagnosis, regardless of their race, gender, age or postcode, and we will continue to build on our work with government to make sure this happens.”

The full story is at Homecare
Of interest:

Alzheimer’s Society 3 hot topics from the world’s largest dementia research conference

Bill Gates announces investment to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Leading philanthropist Bill Gates has announced that he is to invest in a new fund designed to bring about improved diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Gates made his first investment into dementia research in November 2017 when he put $50m into the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), which provides backing for early-stage drug discovery projects around the globe. The DDF was formed through a collaboration of the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s Research UK and several leading pharmaceutical companies.

This latest announcement sees Mr Gates make a further investment into a new fund, Diagnostics Accelerator, run by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in the US. The fund will back research aimed at accelerating earlier and better diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in the clinic.

Full story at Alzheimer’s Research UK