New Blood Test May One Day Act as Alternative to Colonoscopy for Cancer Detection
June 7, 2013 12:05 PM
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The blood test looks for changes in one particular gene called SDC2
Researchers in South Korea have found an alternative to a colonoscopy for detecting colon cancer.
The study, conducted by researchers from Genomictree Inc. and Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, offers a noninvasive and simple blood test for colon cancer.
The blood test watches the methylation of genes, which is a biochemical process vital to how genes function are expressed. By looking at this process, researchers can pinpoint a set of genes with methylation patterns that are found in tissues from colon cancer tumors.
The researchers look for changes in
one particular gene
called SDC2, which is linked to colon cancer growth.
To see if the new blood test worked, the research team took tissues from 133 colon cancer patients and tissues from healthy patients as well.
Using the gene-based screen test, accurate detection of stage 1 cancer occurred 92 percent of the time. For later stages of cancer, accurate detection dropped to 87 percent.
For those without cancer, the blood test detected so 95 percent of the time.
According to lead study author TaeJeong Oh, these results indicate "SDC2 is suitable for early detection of [colorectal cancer] where therapeutic interventions have the greatest likelihood of curing the patient from the disease."
This blood test could give patients
a simple alternative
to colon cancer detection instead of the invasive colonoscopy. As far as accuracy goes, the blood test is in its early stages and will need more studies by others in order to progress.
Today's stool tests can't detect cancer every time, and the colonoscopy isn't 100 percent every time either. A colonoscopy can miss polyps because they are hidden in the crevices of the intestines.
With more research, the simple blood test could one day be an easier and more accurate method of detection.
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6/7/2013 3:40:16 PM
While sensational (and certainly bad), these events are exceedingly rare. What's more common are complications - having operated on numerous colonoscopy related issues (perforation of the colon), it's not a procedure without risk.
Ultimately I think the best part of this is that it's not operator-dependent like a colonoscopy is (i.e. how good is your endoscopist). People quote upwards of 95% sensitivity for colonoscopy but that's in large academic centers - outside the ivory tower who knows.
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