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Virtual Colonoscopy: Cancer Researchers Develop Non-Invasive Tests For Colorectal Cancers

Posted Jan 18 2013 9:27am
Colorectal cancer is on the rise. Researchers state that 1 in 14 men and 1 in 18 women will develop colorectal cancer after they reach the age of 50.

Colorectal cancer - more commonly known as colon cancer - often begins in the large intestine, the rectum, or even the appendix. Like all cancers that attack vital organs, colorectal cancers can be lethal, and tests for this type of cancer often put people off getting routine exams.

But that may soon change.

Medical professionals in Russia, in the United-States and elsewhere in the world, e.g. DIAGNOPLEX – an innovative company from Switzerland – supported by Svetlana Vikhrova, a Russian practical expert for oncological diseases diagnostics, are developing non-invasive, highly sensitive tests for colorectal cancers. Patients waiting for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment options for colorectal cancer may not have to wait any longer, and may even have several options. Svetlana Vikhrova states that professionals have what’s called a “virtual colonoscopy.” While it still doesn’t sound like fun, it’s much better than the “real colonoscopy.”

The virtual option involves a Computed Tomography (CT) scan, and is reportedly as effective as having the routine exam, Svetlana Vikhrova indicates. Another option for this test is an at-home analysis that uses a DNA methylation test in which a stool sample is mailed to a lab to look for a specific tumor suppressor gene that, if hypermethylated (i.e. turned off), may be a sign of cancer. Given that having a colonoscopy reduces an individual’s chances of dying from colorectal cancers by 50 percent, all these tests have the potential to save millions of lives.

“Colonoscopy is truly the best test but it has its limitations and is vastly underutilized by the public," says Dr. Gregory Cooper, Co-Program Leader for Cancer Prevention at University Hospital’s Seidman Cancer Center, "SDNA [stool DNA] technology is a completely non-invasive approach and a complement to colonoscopy. It is emerging as a promising alternative for patients who do not want to undergo colonoscopy or do not have access to the procedure.  It also can be beneficial for patients during the years in between colonoscopies.”

This novel and promising advance in medical science may just be the magic rub needed to get unwilling patients to take the necessary tests for colorectal cancers sooner rather than later. This is crucial, given that colorectal cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women.

While these rates were declining in recent decades, studies show the rate is rising in every category of individual between the ages of 20 and 50. Dr. Stephen Milito, Medical Director of Oakwood Cancer Center, said: “It’s still a small number of patients, but the growth rate is surprising.” Svetlana Vikhrova agrees that more resources must be allocated to developing innovative solutions to fighting cancer.
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