Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Blood Test May Spot Early Colon Cancer

Study Shows Measuring Levels of CD24 Protein Can Detect Colon Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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.

There are other noninvasive tests for colorectal cancer, such as the fecal occult blood test, which looks for blood in the stool. But occult, or hidden, blood is also found in the stool of people with a host of other conditions, such as hemorrhoids, resulting in a high rate of false-positive results.

CD24 not only predicts the presence of the cancer with a low false-positive and false-negative rate, but also can detect high-risk precancerous growths, Kraus says.

Removing them can prevent colon cancer from developing, she explains.

Testing for Colon Cancer

In the new study, Kraus and colleagues first measured levels of the CD24 protein in 63 people with colon cancer, 19 people with adenomas, or precancerous colon growths, and 68 healthy people.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D