Blood test can detect colon cancer

Nov. 21, 2008 at 12:34 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- An Israeli researcher says he has developed a simple early-warning, painless and inexpensive blood test to detect colon cancer.

Nadir Arber, a professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, said the test can detect cells of colon polyps -- the precursors to colon cancer -- in the blood, with a very high degree of sensitivity and accuracy.

The test is based on testing the oncogene for colorectal cancer -- a protein encoding gene which, when deregulated, participates in the onset and development of cancer.

It utilizes the fact that polyps in the colon emit biomarkers, which can be detected in the blood at very low levels. Recent studies show that the test can correctly identify adenomas -- the polyps that convert to colon cancer -- at a success rate of more than 80 percent, Arber said.

Some patients forego colonoscopy not just out of fear or distaste, but due to its high cost of about $1,500 per test. Arber's procedure, being prepared for market by Bio Mark Ltd., is expected to cost about $50 to $100 per test, Arber said.

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