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    Blood Test May Warn of Colon Cancer

    Study Shows Test Detects Cancer in Time to Remove Precancerous Growths

    Findings 'Exciting but Early' continued...

    "At this point, we have to look at whether this has value as a standalone screening option," Brooks tells WebMD.

    Brooks calls the new findings "very encouraging, but very early." He points out that the test still has to be validated in a large number of unselected people. Indeed, Getzenberg says such a study already is under way, with 500 people enrolled at several different institutions.

    "In about two years we should have this thing out there," Getzenberg says.

    Brooks hopes Getzenberg is right. However, he points to a possible problem with the test.

    "The Hopkins data is a little concerning in that 16% of those with cancers other than colon cancer had a false-positive result," Brooks says. "That means that anyone who had a positive result on this test but a negative colonoscopy would have to embark on a tumor search. That would raise the price tag -- and the anxiety level -- for those who have false-positive test results."

    Blood Tests for Other Cancers?

    If all this sounds familiar, it is. Last April, Getzenberg's team reported a similar blood test for prostate cancer.

    Getzenberg says his team is trying to concentrate on developing the prostate cancer and colon cancer tests. But he says the same technique he used to find the prostate- and colon-cancer markers should work for other cancers.

    "I am almost positive this will work for a large number of cancer types -- maybe not all, but a large number," he says. "We will help other people do this. It is an approach we have found to be very productive in finding cancer-specific markers that people have been searching for for a while."

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