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Blood Test Could Show Colon Cancer Risk


Researchers are working to create the first broadly available test to determine an individual's chance of developing this disease.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott, amednews staff. Oct. 24/31, 2005.

Several medical societies, including the American Medical Association, and numerous public health agencies long have encouraged colon cancer screening as a means to reduce mortality from the disease. Colon cancer screening rates, however, are far from ideal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million people older than 50 have not been screened in accordance with national guidelines.

Researchers suspect that this kind of blood test would address some of the barriers to increasing these rates, especially among those who most need it. For example, current screening modalities are resource-intensive. If everyone recommended to get tested actually was, the burden on the health system would be significant. Researchers hope that a means to focus on those at higher risk will address this issue. Also, most screening tests are not very appealing to patients. Knowledge of increased risk may provide an incentive so more of those who should be screened will go.

"By offering a non-invasive test to determine risk, the number of people willing to be screened should increase dramatically," Dr. Cruz-Correa said.


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