Blood Test Detects Colorectal Cancer

A blood test that helps to detect colorectal cancer is now available.

The ColoVantage™ test detects changes in DNA shed into the blood stream from colon and rectal tumors.  It will be offered in the United States by Quest Diagnostics.

In preliminary results from a clinical trial of nearly 8,000 people, the blood test found colorectal cancer in about 50 percent.  Previous studies have identified cancer at all stages in 70 percent of those who had it.  The test is over 90 percent specific with few false positives.

Developed by the German firm Epigenomics, the molecular test is based on changes in DNA called methylation.  If the test finds methylation of the SEPTIN9 gene in blood, patients are referred for colonoscopy and further evaluation for possible colorectal cancer.

The goal is to find cancer in the early stages when it is most curable.

In describing the use of the molecular test, Dr. Thomas Roesch, Professor of Endoscopy at the University Medical Center in Hamburg said,

The big issue in colorectal cancer screening remains that far too few people make use of it. Stool tests and colonoscopy are still not sufficiently accepted by patients. In this situation a simple blood test makes a lot of sense as it is easy to use for the patients and quickly done. And who wouldn’t accept to undergo colonoscopy if the blood test already indicated a high risk of having colorectal cancer?

The test has received CE marking for use in the European Union and is being marketed there by Abbott Laboratories as RealTime mS9. It has not yet been approved by the FDA in the United States.

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