Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder which accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases, affecting approximately 10 million people in Europe. Neuroimaging techniques and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers used in combination with cognitive assessment tools open the door to early diagnosis of AD. However, these tools present some challenges that need to be overcome, such as low sensitivity or specificity, high cost, limited availability or invasiveness. Thus, low-cost and non-invasive alternatives, such as plasma biomarkers, have the potential to drive changes in AD screening and diagnosis. In addition to the technical aspects, organisational challenges as well as ethical concerns need to be addressed. In many countries, there is an insufficient number of specialists to recognise, evaluate and diagnose dementia and the waiting times to see a specialist are long. Given that there is currently no cure for AD, it is important to consider the potential psychological impact of an early diagnosis. In addition, counselling before biomarker sampling and during diagnosis disclosure is vital to guarantee that the patients have all the information necessary and their queries are addressed in a sensitive manner. Here, we illustrate (using a clinical vignette) current challenges of diagnosis and discuss some of the benefits and challenges of early diagnosis in AD including the value of biomarkers in combination with clinical evaluation. Lastly, some guidelines for disclosing early diagnosis of AD are provided based on our experiences.
© 2022. The Author(s).