In Capital Health has recently published articles on blood tests and other diagnostic tests. The timing is therefore good to learn of a new blood test for colon and bowel cancer. Does this test work? If so, what are the implications?
London bowel cancer expert, Austin Obichere says that this new test for colorectal surgery is good news. The Epi proColon test will help us to identify bowel cancer sufficiently soon for doctors to be able to treat the disease. He says;
“This is truly an exciting development, taking a further significant step towards a simple test (blood or stool) to identify colorectal cancer in its early form when potentially surgically curable. Arguably, this approach remains the “Holy Grail” in colorectal cancer screening.
The concept of using DNA methylation biomarkers for bowel cancer screening is not new and has been explored by previous researchers in this field without much clinical success. There are of course numerous other known biomarkers and those yet to be discovered, that play an important role in cancerous growth and spread. This novel new strategy indicating detection of 70 percent of bowel cancers is promising and may have widespread clinical application if the results of ongoing prospective clinical trials mirror the initial findings.
A word of warning however, is that not all colorectal cancers express DNA methylation detectable in a blood sample and a negative EpiProColon test does not necessarily mean that the person in question does not have bowel cancer. Furthermore, those who test positive for bowel cancer using this novel method will certainly require further investigation with the “Gold Standard” colonoscopy, not only to obtain tissue diagnosis but also to locate the site of the tumour as this would determine what type of operation your surgeon is likely to advise. Colonoscopy for bowel cancer screening is currently being offered within the NHS bowel cancer screening programme for patients between the ages of 60-69 who test positive for the faecal occult blood test sent to them by post. The procedure (colonoscopy) is performed by Nationally accredited bowel cancer screening colonoscopists at your local bowel cancer screening centre.