Early tests are being done to research levels of a specific gene in the blood that may be linked to colorectal cancer. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows the findings.
Researchers in the gastrointestinal cancer research lab at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas screened several hundred patients to check for levels of miR-21 – a piece of DNA known as microRNA – in their blood. The patients either had colorectal polyps, which are non-cancerous, or colorectal cancer.
Based on the miR-21 levels in their blood, researchers identified 92 percent of the patients with colorectal cancer. Researchers spotted patients who had advanced colorectal polyps, which heighten the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Currently, colonoscopies are the standard way to screen for colorectal cancer. According to Dr. Jerald Wishner, director of colorectal surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, only half of all Americans who should be screened for colorectal cancer actually get screened.
“The blood test is a less invasive screening method that will eliminate barriers to colonoscopies, including embarrassment and possible discomfort in preparation for the test,” said Wishner.
Still in the early stages of testing, this blood test may prove promising for the future of cancer screening and treatment, according to Dr. Wishner.
Learn more about colorectal cancer diagnostics and treatment.