New study highlights potential of colon cancer blood test

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Colon cancer is easily treatable when detected early, but only 50% of Americans who’ve reached the suggested age to get checked for colon cancer through a colonoscopy are having the procedure. But through a potential new blood test, doctors are hoping that changes.

A study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” found a blood test searching for DNA called Shield detected 87% of cancers that were at an early and curable stage.

Early detection of colon cancer can prevent a majority of deaths from this disease, possibly as much as 73%.

One reason individuals do not have colonoscopys, doctors say, is that the screening methods put many people off. Enter the blood test. Gastroenterologists say such tests could become part of the routine blood work that doctors order when a patient comes in for an annual physical exam.

The test works under the discovery that colon cancers and large polyps, clumps of cells on the lining of the colon that occasionally turn into cancers, shed fragments of DNA into the blood. The blood test can detect abnormalities. It cannot detect polyps but rather the presence of cancer cells.

Dr. Madappa Kundranda, Gastrointestinal Medical Oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, joined “Arizona Horizon” to discuss the study.

Dr. Madappa Kundranda, Gastrointestinal Medical Oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center

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