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Improved DNA stool test could detect digestive cancers in multiple organs
Date:6/2/2009

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that a noninvasive screening test can detect not only colorectal cancer but also the common cancers above the colon -- including pancreas, stomach, biliary and esophageal cancers. This is one of more than 100 Mayo Clinic studies being presented at Digestive Disease Week 2009 in Chicago, May 30 June 4.

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers account for approximately one in four cancer deaths. While high cure rates can be achieved with early-stage detection for each type, only colorectal cancer is currently screened at the population level. Most people associate colorectal cancer screening with invasive colonoscopy, but previous Mayo Clinic research has shown that stool DNA testing can identify both early-stage colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps. Researchers are now studying the use of noninvasive stool DNA testing to detect lesions and cancer throughout the GI tract.

"Patients are often worried about invasive tests like colonoscopies, and yet these tests have been the key to early cancer detection and prevention," says David Ahlquist, M.D., Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and lead researcher on the study. "Our research team continues to look for more patient-friendly tests with expanded value, and this new study reveals an opportunity for multi-organ digestive cancer screening with a single noninvasive test."

The researchers studied 70 patients with cancers throughout the digestive tract. Besides colon cancer, the study looked at throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreatic, bile duct, gallbladder and small bowel cancers to determine if gene mutations could be detected in stool samples. Using a stool test approach developed at Mayo Clinic, researchers targeted DNA from cells that are shed continuously from the surface of these cancers. Also studied were 70 healthy patients. Stool tests were performed on cancer patients and healthy controls by technicians unaware of sample source.
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Contact: Amy Tieder
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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