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Blood Test Spots Colon Cancer, Polyps
Date:1/20/2010

If validated, the screen could greatly boost detection rates, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The first blood test to reliably detect early-stage colorectal cancer and polyps may help identify patients who would gain most from colonoscopy, say Israeli researchers who developed the screen.

The blood test checks for levels of CD24 protein, which is produced early in colorectal cancer development and may play a role in the spread of tumor cells, say the team, who will present their findings Sunday at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

"Screening is effective for early colorectal cancer detection and prevention, but for a range of reasons, many people are reluctant to undergo colonoscopy. Most people, however, are willing to have a blood test," lead author Sarah Kraus, head of a research laboratory at Tel Aviv Souraski Medical Center, said in a news release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which helped organize the meeting.

"The CD24 blood test holds promise for identifying the patients at risk for colorectal cancer and could help guide the best use of colonoscopy resources," she said.

Kraus and her colleagues tested the new blood test in 150 patients undergoing colonoscopy. They found that the test was 92.3 percent sensitive (accurate detection of an abnormality) and specific (able to differentiate certain diseases from other diseases) for detecting colorectal cancer, and 84.2 percent sensitive and 89.2 percent specific for detecting polyps that may develop into cancer.

Additional, larger studies to confirm the findings are needed before the new blood test could be used for colorectal cancer screening, Kraus cautioned.

Another study to be presented at the meeting found that post-surgical (adjuvant) treatment with XELOX -- a combination of capecitabine and oxaliplatin -- was more effective than standard 5-fluorouracil and l
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