Colon Cancer a New Blood Test May Take to the Place of Colonoscopy Screening

Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the US (including skin cancer). The total number of colorectal cancer cases reported by the American Cancer Society for 2018 is 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer.

Colon Cancer a New Blood Test May Take to the Place of Colonoscopy Screening

Colon (and rectal) cancer, also called CRC, is a highly treatable type of cancer when symptoms are detected early in the disease process. Enter the dreaded colonoscopy. Until recently, colonoscopy tests were the best way for doctors to find precancerous polyps or growths that could cause cancer in the intestines. These early growths are removed before they ever get the chance to become cancerous. The problem is that many people tend to avoid screening tests for CRC, such as this.

However, recent studies have found that a simple blood test may be able to detect CRC as accurately (or perhaps even more so) than other, more invasive CRC screening tests.

Historically, early detection, observation, and disease management have led to a reduction in mortality (death) rates from CRC. Even so, this type of malignancy is the 2nd most common cause of death from cancer. However, a new medical breakthrough, presented at the 2018 gastrointestinal cancer Symposium, shows a real promise of being able to improve the screening process for early detection and treatment of CRC.


The study involved over 600 volunteers, 327 were diagnosed with stage I to stage IV CRC, the other Group 2 involved around 100 adults with polyps, as well as a healthy control group of 182. Each person in the study underwent a blood test that was analyzed. The analysis results are then integrated into an algorithmic system, to determine the risk of each individual score — but the results are not revealed. Further, study participants were screened by colonoscopy and when indicated they underwent a biopsy, a result was not revealed. At the end of the study, the results of a blood test (called a "biopsy fluid") and colonoscopy findings were compared.

Study Findings:

The researchers found that the blood test was approximately 84% to 88% accurate (higher than that of a standard screening, called FOBT or fecal occult blood test). The incidence of a false positive biopsy test (in the healthy group of study participants) was calculated at 3.3%.

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