A new blood test may help doctors detect early colorectal cancer and polyps, growths in the colon or rectum that could become cancer. The new blood test detects levels of the CD24 protein. The CD24 protein is a substance made by cancerous or precancerous cells (cells that are not cancer but could become cancer over time) that can be found in the blood early in the development of colorectal cancer. Researchers hope that the use of this blood test will help doctors determine which patients would benefit from having a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to look inside the rectum and colon with a flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. Currently, a colonoscopy is the best way to detect colorectal cancer and remove polyps. However, many people who could benefit from a colonoscopy are not having this screening test.
What this means for patients
“Screening is effective for early colorectal cancer detection, but many people are reluctant to have a colonoscopy for a range of reasons. Most people, however, are willing to have a blood test,” said lead author Sarah Kraus, PhD, who heads a research laboratory at Tel Aviv Souraski Medical Center in Israel. “This blood test may help identify people who have a higher risk of colorectal cancer and who would benefit the most from colonoscopy.” Because this test is still being researched, it is only available through clinical trials. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your risk of colorectal cancer and the screening tests recommended for you.
What to ask your doctor
- Do you recommend that I have a colonoscopy?
- What should I expect during a colonoscopy?
- Are there other tests for colorectal cancer that you recommend?
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