Introducing the Galleri Test

Today, the majority of cancers are diagnosed too late, when outcomes are poor. 71% of cancer deaths are caused by cancer not commonly screened for. We’re excited to share that we now offer a revolutionary multi-cancer early detection test for our patients.

It’s called the Galleri™ Multi-Cancer Early-Detection Test and it can detect more than 50 types of cancer by looking for signals in the blood that may be associated with cancer. If caught in its early stages, cancer treatment outcomes and survival rates may be improved.

A few benefits of the test:

  • It detects many cancers that are not commonly screened for today, so you can get treated earlier.
  • It can be incorporated into a routine visit through a simple blood draw.
  • If a cancer signal is found, the results point to where in the body the cancer is coming from to help us guide your next steps.

Cost of the test: $949

  • This amounts to about $18 per cancer being checked
  • Interest-free payment plans available up to 6 months

The Galleri™ test is recommended for use in adults with an elevated risk for cancer, such as those aged 50 or older. It is intended to be used in addition to, and not replace, other cancer screening tests. To learn more about the test by watching this short explainer video. Please visit this page to review important safety information.

This test is done with a simple blood draw. Contact our office today and find out if the Galleri™ test may be right for you.

A COVID Update

The news about COVID-19 has been mostly positive in the U.S. over recent months, and fortunately, the situation continues to look reassuring for individuals who are vaccinated. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those who are not vaccinated, largely because of the Delta variant.

The vaccines continue to work well against every variant, and the number of vaccinated Americans continues to rise. However, the U.S. still faces two problems. First, the pace of vaccinations has slowed down, and a considerable amount of Americans – close to one third – remain hesitant about getting the vaccine. These unvaccinated individuals will remain vulnerable to COVID outbreaks and to serious symptoms, or even death. Second, the Delta variant is spreading rapidly in the U.S. It now accounts for about 10 percent of cases, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former F.D.A. commissioner. The Delta variant is by far the most contagious variant of this virus and it is also more severe. In countries with more rapid, widespread testing, it has been found that patients are becoming sicker and their conditions are worsening much more quickly.  Together, these two factors help explain why new cases are no longer falling.

Experts are concerned that cases will eventually start to rise again as Delta becomes the dominant form of the virus. They are expecting to see surges this fall, including many hospitalizations and even deaths, in low-vaccine populations due to the combination of seasonality, the adverse effects of Delta, and the “back-to-normal” behavior.

There is one big piece of encouraging news: The vaccines continue to work extremely well against the variants, based on current evidence. The data suggests that fully vaccinated individuals remain protected from the variants. The vaccines vastly reduce the number of COVID cases of any kind and virtually eliminate death. This is demonstrated in Britain, where the Delta variant has spread widely and become dominant, and where the vaccination rate is high, there are still no signs of increase in deaths (Dr. Eric Tropol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute).

Nothing is more important than vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Studies show that the vaccines are effective at keeping individuals from getting COVID-19. Getting vaccinated will also help keep one from getting seriously ill even if they do get COVID-19. Vaccination is an important tool to bring everyone closer to enjoying the activities that have been missed. For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the CDC website. For more information on where to get vaccinated, contact your local pharmacy or visit your local health department’s website. In Travis County, a mobile vaccine program has been implemented for homebound patients. Homebound patients seeking the COVID-19 vaccine can contact Austin Public Health to request a home visit. To do so, please call 3-1-1 or (512) 974-2000 and provide your name and return phone number. For key information regarding COVID-19, please refer to our website.

Q&A Session with Alexandria Anderson of Essential Fitness ATX, Recording

Thank you for tuning in to our live Q&A session with Alexandria on April 21st, and many thanks to Alexandria for joining us to talk about fitness training and proper exercise techniques! For those who missed the session, please see below for a recording.

Alexandria Anderson (she/her) is an ACE Certified Personal and Group Fitness Instructor from Chicago, Illinois. She has lived in Austin for over 16 years. Alexandria graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in Communications. After graduating in 2009, she ran professionally for NIKE for 8 years and was a part of several USA World Gold and Silver Medal Track and Field teams. After retiring from track and field in 2017, she continued to pursue her passion of impacting lives through fitness by receiving her CPT in January 2018. She became a personal trainer because she truly has the desire to help others be the healthiest version of themselves. Alexandria launched her fitness business, Essential Fitness ATX, in the fall of 2018, with a focus on personal and small group training. Her sessions and classes are well-balanced and curated in such a way that all levels will find benefit and challenge. In the summer of 2020, Alexandria was inducted into the University of Texas Athletics Hall of Honors for her successful track and field career which includes winning an individual NCAA national championship her last year at UT.

She is currently working to complete her 200 RYT Yoga Certification, Cancer Exercise Training Institute Personal Training Certification, ACE Health Coach Certification & ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist Program. Outside of training, Alexandria loves to travel, camping, gardening, skating, hiking and hanging out with friends and family. Check out her website and Instagram for more information!


Q&A Session with Dr. Tanya Khan, Recording

Thank you for tuning in to our live Q&A session with Dr. Tanya Khan on March 30th, and a HUGE thank you to Dr. Khan for joining us to talk about eye and skin care! For those who missed the session, please see below for a recording.

Dr. Khan with Tru-Skin Dermatology specializes in the clinical and surgical management of eyelid and orbit disorders. She performs surgeries to correct excess tearing due to nasolacrimal obstruction, complex oculofacial reconstruction to repair defects from trauma or cancer excision, and the removal of orbital tumors. Dr. Khan also offers non-invasive facial cosmetic augmentation through botulinum toxin and facial filler injections, chemical and laser skin resurfacing, and topical skin care.

Check out her website to find out more!

Thank You for All of Your Donations!

Santa’s Workshop Drive was a success! Thank you to our patients for making this possible!

We are filled with gratitude and greatly appreciate the many donations we received this year in support of giving families a Christmas to remember. Thanks to the generosity of our patients, families at the Ronald McDonald House can focus on what is most important: their children.

Today our office elves will be dropping off all of the gifts at the Ronald McDonald House Charity of Central Texas. In response to COVID-19, there will be no “shopping and wrapping” at Santa’s Workshop this year. Instead, the gifts are delivered all wrapped up, and tagged accordingly by age group.

Wishing you and your family a happy and safe Holiday!

Update on COVID-19 Vaccine

Following the Travis County Medical Society Town Hall Meeting, we would like to take this time to provide an update regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Two COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Texas around December 17-18, by two different manufacturers, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Both vaccines are similar in their active ingredient, messenger RNA, to allow the body to develop antibodies against the COVID-19 spike protein.

Key Assumptions for COVID-19 Vaccine:

  • Limited doses may be available by mid December 2020, but supply will increase substantially in 2021
  • Initial supply will either be approved as a licensed vaccine or authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA
  • Two doses, separated by 21 or 28 days, will be needed for immunity for most COVID-19 vaccines
  • Risk of side effects are low and are similar to those of the influenza vaccine, such as local redness, swelling, soreness, and mild flu-like symptoms

The COVID-19 vaccine timeline will follow 4 phases based on the activities allowed by availability of supplies:

  • Phase 1 (November-December 2020)
    • Limited doses
    • Priority groups based on CDC guidance when sufficient vaccine is made available: critical infrastructure workers, individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID disease, individuals who are at high risk for acquiring or transmitting COVID, people with limited access to vaccines (see below for CDC Critical Populations for COVID-19)

  • Phase 2 (January-July 2021)
    • Number of doses available increases (~660M nationwide)
    • Our practice will likely fall in this phase, and we can expect to have the vaccines available in our office sometime in early 2021
  • Phase 3 and Phase 4
    • Likely excess supply
    • Outreach to hard-to-reach populations
    • Plan for potential seasonal vaccine

We will email our patients when our practice is able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Please visit our blog and check your emails regularly for ongoing updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Holiday Toy Drive Benefiting Ronald McDonald House

Dear Patients and Friends of the Practice,

As we get close to the holidays, it is always good to remember the folks that may be having a harder time of it, especially with all that has happened this year. You have most likely heard of the Ronald McDonald House, an organization that helps families stay near their ill children, with both a place to stay and financial help. Of course, keeping families together is especially important during the holiday season. We thank all of our patients who participated in supporting their efforts last year, and we are excited to announce that we will have another opportunity this year to come together as a practice to sponsor the RMHC Santa’s Workshop Toy and Gift Drive, and myself and staff will be volunteering our time to assemble gift bags.

We need your help! Please bring in a new, unwrapped toy or adult gift anytime before December 17 (please see here for suggestions). We are also accepting gift bags this year for assembly of the gifts. On December 18, we will be delivering the gifts to the Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas.

We hope you will consider donating a toy on your next visit, or whenever you are in the area. Together we can help families whose spirits might need a little extra lifting this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from Partners in Health!

Considerations for Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people around the country. The upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to gather and reconnect with family and friends. This holiday season, consider how your plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your loved ones and communities healthy and safe.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 activity is rising throughout the U.S. and gatherings are a significant contributor to the rise in cases. Please keep the following considerations in mind during small gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19. These guidelines are meant to supplement, not replace, any state or local health and safety regulations, with which all gatherings must comply.

Celebrating with members of your own household, who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, poses the lowest risk. Members of your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit, including family members and roommates. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, including college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, are considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together individuals from different households, including students returning home, pose varying levels of risk based on several factors:

  • Community levels of COVID-19: High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to gather. Information on the number of cases in an area can often be found on the local health department website.
  • Exposure during travel: Travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces in airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops.
  • Location of gathering: Indoor gatherings, especially in areas that are small, enclosed, with no outside air, pose greater risk than outdoor gatherings. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent it is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing continuous circulation of central air. Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible, and try to implement mask wearing when not eating or drinking.
  • Duration of the gathering: Gatherings that last longer post more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and will require a 14-day quarantine.
  • Number and crowding of people at the gathering: The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet apart, wear masks, maintain hand hygiene, and follow state and local regulations.
  • Behaviors of attendees prior to and during the gathering: Individuals who have consistently adhered to prevention behaviors (social distancing, mask wearing, handwashing, etc.) pose less risk than those who have been less consistent in practicing these safety measures. Gatherings with more safety measures in place pose less risk than gatherings with fewer or no preventive measures implemented. Attendees should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with individuals not from their household. At gatherings that include people of different households, everyone should wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking. It is also important to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household at all times. Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Try to avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors.

Do not host or participate in any in-person gatherings if you or anyone in your household:

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Is waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Extra tips to ensure a safe and healthy gathering:

  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items such as serving utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households before the gathering.
  • Do not let pets interact with people outside of the household.
  • Bring extra supplies to contribute to the gathering if possible, such as extra masks, extra hand soap or hand sanitizer.
  • Get your flu vaccine, as it is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases.

If you are exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday gathering, while traveling, or at any time, quarantine yourself to protect others and follow these guidelines.

Thanksgiving may look different this year, but we encourage approaching the holidays with an open mind. Consider the above guidelines to protect your families and friends, and to ensure a season of good health. Thank you to all of our patients for their continued cooperation in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Embrace your Eyes Event featuring Dr. Tanya Khan

I am excited to offer an exclusive virtual event presented by Dr. Tanya Khan, one of the top Oculoplastic Surgeons in Austin. Dr. Khan will be offering an informational about eyelid surgery and non-surgical options this Thursday, August 27th via Zoom.

ZOOM ID: 830 9022 5650

Dr. Khan trained at Duke University and currently practices at Tru-Skin Dermatology in Austin. She specializes in the clinical and surgical management of eyelid and orbit disorders, including blepharoplasty, repair of blepharoptosis, ectropion, entropion, trichiasis, epiphora, hemifacial spasms, and thyroid eye disease.  She performs surgeries to correct excess tearing due to nasolacrimal obstruction, complex oculofacial reconstruction to repair defects from trauma or cancer excision, and removal of orbital tumors.

As a board-certified ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained oculoplastic surgeon, her goal is to help people see better and feel more confident by sculpting their eyelids to better frame their faces. Often times eyelid surgeries can be covered by your medical insurance plan and would be considered upon consultation. She also offers many services that extend beyond the scalpel, such as facial fillers, neuromodulators, lasers, and skincare.

Join us virtually at the time of the event to enter to win a FREE virtual consultation with Dr. Tanya Khan! Winner will be announced following the event!

Thursday, August 27th at 4:30 PM

Click here to join the live event

Updated Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the U.S., the number of serology (antibody) tests aimed at identifying those with prior exposure to COVID-19 have made their way into the market. These tests are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires all commercially marketed serological tests to apply for and receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in order to market these tests to the public. The FDA also provides recommended performance standards that these tests should meet. As of June 17, approximately 18 commercial serological tests have been granted EUAs, while over 120 tests are currently on the market.

Serology tests have several limitations that make correct interpretation of the results critical. There is still so much unknown about immune status for the novel virus. Limitations to be aware of include:

  • False positive results: Serological testing for disease with a low prevalence in the population (such as the case in the U.S. and Travis county) present inherent challenges with interpretation of positive results. Even high performing tests with high sensitivity and specificity will return false positive results when disease prevalence is low, as is currently the case with COVID-19. Let’s take for example, a community of 100 individuals with a disease prevalence of 5%. If a test with a specificity of 95% was used in this population, it would be expected to return 5% false positives, so 5 out of the population of 100. 5 true positives would also be expected, as the disease prevalence is 5%. Overall, this test would return 10 positive results. However, only half of those results would be accurate, which shows the inherent limitation of these tests in low disease prevalence states. Once the disease prevalence is higher, the concern about false positives becomes somewhat mitigated, however, this is not the current reality with COVID-19.
  • Cross-reactivity: Cross-reactivity occurs when a test for antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 identifies not only antibodies for this virus, but also for other coronaviruses, such as those that cause the common cold. For tests where cross-reactivity is possible, antibodies for other coronaviruses may result in a positive result even when the patient was not infected with COVID-19.
  • Immune status: Given that COVID-19 is a novel virus, there is much that we don’t know about what, if any, immunity it may confer to those exposed and recovered from the infection. According to the FDA and the CDC, there is currently no available evidence showing immunity to COVID-19 after infection. While individuals typically develop some type of immune response after exposure to most viruses, it is not yet clear when an immune response develops after COVID-19 infection, how strong this immune response may be, and how long the immune response may last.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association (AMA):

  • Serology tests should not be used as the sole basis of diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.
  • Use of serology tests should currently be limited to population-level seroprevalence study, evaluation of recovered individuals for convalescent plasma donations, and in other situations where they are used as part of a well-defined testing plan and in concert with other clinical information by physicians well-versed in interpretation of serology test results.
  • Serology tests should not be offered to individuals as a method of determining immune status. Individuals receiving positive test results may falsely assume it is safe to discontinue physical distancing. The AMA and CDC recommend all individuals to continue to abide by physical distancing recommendations, and face covering and shelter in place requirements.
  • Serology tests should not currently be used as the basis for any “immune certificates.”
  • Serology tests should not be used to inform decisions to return to work, or to otherwise inform physical distancing decisions. Doing so may put individuals, their household and their community at risk.
  • Serology tests should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as school, dormitories, or correctional facilities.

Currently, the prevalence in Travis County is less than 1%. Because of this low prevalence, the serology antibody test will yield a high percentage of false positives. At this time, we are not recommending routine serology testing. These tests may play an important role in determining the overall prevalence of COVID-19 in the U.S. population, and may also be important in determining the prevalence of asymptomatic infections. While these tests will undoubtedly play an important role in population-level studies going forward, they are not without limitation and we must be well-versed in these limitations in our current environment and have a strong understanding of both the test and the potential results.