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Blood Test May Spot Early Colon Cancer

Noninvasive Colon Cancer Screening May Catch More Cancers, Researchers Say

Blood Test for Early Colon Cancer Is Holy Grail

"Early detection of colon cancer has been shown to reduce mortality, but compliance with screening colonoscopy is a big issue, so a blood test that is simple to perform, if it was sensitive and specific, would, of course, be the holy grail," says Robert S. Bresalier, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"There is a lot of interest in blood, stool, and other less invasive screening tests to replace colonoscopy," he says.

Whether or not this specific test is the holy grail is unknown, he says. "This is encouraging and exciting, and uses cutting-edge technology, but it needs to be validated," he says. "We will have to wait and see how this performs."

Leonard Augenlicht, PhD, a professor of medicine and cell biology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, says that the only definitive early screening test for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. "It is not as bad as it sounds, but many people are reluctant, so we looking for better noninvasive tests," he tells WebMD.

"This could be a noninvasive test that is relatively simple to perform, but the big question is just how efficient or valid is this test," he says.

"The danger is the risk of a false-negative result," he says. "If someone is told that they are negative on the basis of this test or another blood test, and that discourages them from more definitive testing, cancer could be missed."

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