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Noninvasive Test for Colon Cancer Shows Promise in Early Trial
Date:10/28/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A new noninvasive test to detect pre-cancerous polyps and colon tumors appears to be more accurate than current noninvasive tests such as the fecal occult blood test, Mayo clinic researchers say.

The search for a highly accurate, noninvasive alternative to invasive screens such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is a "Holy Grail" of colon cancer research.

In a preliminary trial, the new test was able to identify 64 percent of pre-cancerous polyps and 85 percent of full-blown cancers, the researchers reported.

Dr. Floriano Marchetti, an assistant professor of clinical surgery in the division of colon and rectal surgery at University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the new test could be an important adjunct to colon cancer screening if it proves itself in further study.

"Obviously, these findings need to be replicated on a larger scale," he said. "Hopefully, this is a good start for a more reliable test."

Dr. Durado Brooks, director of colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society, agreed. "These findings are interesting," he said. "They will be more interesting if we ever get this kind of data in a screening population."

The study's lead researcher remained optimistic.

"There are 150,000 new cases of colon cancer each year in the United States, treated at an estimated cost of $14 billion," noted Dr. David A. Ahlquist, professor of medicine and a consultant in gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"The dream is to eradicate colon cancer altogether and the most realistic approach to getting there is screening," he said. "And screening not only in a way that would not only detect cancer, but pre-cancer. Our test takes us closer to that dream."

Ahlquist was scheduled to present the findings of the study Thursday in Philadelphia at a meeting on colorectal
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