A New Blood Test May Help With Early Colon Cancer Detection

A New Blood Test May Help With Early Colon Cancer Detection

According to clinical trial data, a new blood test has proven to be quite accurate in the early detection of colorectal cancer in most cases. Colorectal cancer is often deadly, but screening for it can be inconvenient. Getting more adults to go in for screenings is a top priority to help prevent higher rates of this cancer. Health experts believe that this novel test may help people regularly screen for colorectal cancer.

What Is This Novel Blood Test?

Colorectal cancer screening has a reputation for being difficult, but this new test may be as easy as giving blood. In fact, you may even be able to do the test during your regular check up, but there are some caveats, despite the test’s efficacy. According to a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the cell-free DNA (cfDNA) was able to detect colorectal cancer in 83% of participants with the disease. That detection rate is similar to a pre-existing at-home screening test that is widely used. This test is a fecal immunochemical (FIT) test, which has a 80% detection rate. 

Health experts concur that colonoscopies remain the best way to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. The reason for this is because they can accurately identify colorectal cancer in about 95% of cases. The problem is that they require significantly more time, scheduling, and preparation. Health experts note that the combination of accuracy and accessibility could change the game for colorectal cancer screening, which is very exciting. 

Early detection with tests like these can help move the needle forward in confirming their validity. Although this novel cfDNA blood test is not perfect, it is a big step forward in the world of early colorectal cancer detection.

83% Accuracy Is Great

Just to be clear, the cfDNA test does not prevent cancer; rather, it works by detecting small DNA fragments in the blood that may come from cancerous tissue or tumors. Experts think that this is one of the first tests that uses a combination of mutations and epigenetic marks of DNA to detect cancer. 

The results of the study in The New England Journal of Medicine came from ECLIPSE, a large, multi-center trial. The trial consisted of 8,000 patients between the ages of 45 and 84. Study authors note that the participants were at an average risk for colorectal cancer and were already undergoing routine screenings. The new test, however, does not test for precancerous lesions or polyps, which can develop into cancer. Unfortunately, the test only detected precancerous lesions in 13% of cases.

Only Two-Thirds Of Americans Get Cancer Screenings

Despite how deadly colorectal cancer is (it’s the second-leading cause of all cancer-related deaths), most adults do not get the recommended screenings. In fact, less than 60% of adults between the ages of 45 and 75 receive screenings. Health experts estimate that these screenings could prevent about 35,000 deaths annually due to colorectal cancer. 

As stated earlier, colonoscopies are highly accurate at detecting precancerous lesions and colorectal cancer. That said, most people ignore them because of the hassle. Nobody wants to go through the whole process of drinking the special solution to fully eliminate the day before the test. A blood test, however, is much more appealing, despite the fact that it is slightly less accurate. Getting more people to regularly screen for colorectal cancer could be a net positive. 

The bottom line is that this new blood test is able to detect colorectal cancer in about 83% of cases. Because it is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, early detection is key. Not enough adults screen for this cancer, so the hope with this test is that more adults decide to screen for the cancer on a regular basis.



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