A screening colonoscopy can diagnose colon cancer early – often before a person has symptoms. The drawback to this test is many people are reluctant to get it. Now, researchers believe they’ve come up with a new test for colon cancer – one that’s non-invasive and completely stress-free.
A Blood Test for Colon Cancer?
A company called Diagnostic Product Development has developed a blood test for colon cancer that could reach the market once clinical trials are complete. This new test for colon cancer uses less than a milliliter of blood. From this small amount of blood, a lab would run an inexpensive test called a microRNA screening assay.
According to preliminary studies, microRNA screening has good sensitivity – meaning it picks up a good proportion of colon cancers when they’re present – and good specificity – meaning the test isn’t frequently positive when the patient doesn’t have colon cancer. This colon cancer blood test could be a good screening tool for people who won’t undergo a screening colonoscopy – because the test can pick up colon cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.
Why This New Test for Colon Cancer is Important
Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in this country, and the incidence of this cancer is growing in younger people. When colon cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be cured, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
The best test currently available for early detection is a screening colonoscopy, but fewer than half of all people over the age of fifty have actually had this screening procedure. Why the reluctance? Some fear the prep procedure that goes along with a colonoscopy, while others are afraid of complications such as bleeding or perforation of the colon. Although this happens rarely, it’s a justifiable fear that a blood test for colon cancer would solve.
A Blood Test for Colon Cancer: The Bottom Line?
The company will be starting a large, prospective clinical trial on people who already have colon cancer to verify the effectiveness of this new test. Hopefully, microRNA testing will soon make it easier to screen for colon cancer – and save lives at the same time.
Eurekalert.org. “Screening tool can detect colorectal cancer from a small blood sample”