Jan 20, 2010 -- A new blood test has potential for detecting -- and even preventing -- colon cancer, a study shows.
The test spots a protein called CD24 that is elevated in the presence of both colon cancer and growths that are destined to become colon cancer. In contrast, levels of the protein are low in healthy tissue.
CD24 is produced early in colorectal cancer development and may be involved in the spread of tumor cells, says researcher Sarah Kraus, PhD, of the Tel Aviv Souraski Medical Center in Israel.
"Colon cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage, when it has a poor prognosis. The idea of the new test is to detect the cancer earlier when it is more curable," she tells WebMD.
The test may also prove useful for identifying patients who would benefit most from colonoscopy, Kraus says.
The findings were released today in advance of the annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, being held later this week in Orlando, Fla.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, diagnosed in more than 150,000 people each year in the U.S. Although colonoscopy can detect the disease at an early stage when it is most curable -- and even prevent it by finding polyps before they become cancerous -- many people shun the procedure because of discomfort, pain, and a small risk of complications.