Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Lab at Baylor Research Institute has developed the results of a very promising blood test which detects colon cancer before it develops.
The promising simple blood test examines the levels of a single microRNA- a small RNA molecule that can be indentified in a variety of fluids including blood.
The investigators studied several cases with polyps and cancers and reported that measuring levels of miR-21 in the blood can identify up to 92 percent of patients with colorectoral cancer.
The non-invasive blood test can identify a patient who already have collateral cancer and is efficient in detecting approximately 82 percent of patients with advanced colonic polyps, which can develop into colorectoral cancer at later stages.
"The development of this biomarker is highly encouraging because high mortality rates associated with colorectal cancer is a consequence of late detection of this disease, underscoring the need for improved early detection, prevention, risk assessment and intervention," said Ajay Goel, PhD, director of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor Research Institute.
The commendable advancement is most significantly important for screening strategies and chalking out the best approach to improve survival of suffering patients.
"This blood-based test could be transformative in how we screen patients for colorectal cancer; it would save lives and could result in major savings of health care dollars," said Michael Ramsay, MD, president of Baylor Research Institute.
Though the findings need to be tested more, the evidence were enough warrant an editorial in the highly regarded Journal by Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, associate director for clinical research at the University of Southern California's Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. "MiR-21 may not be just another brick in the wall, but rather may be the keystone leading to a molecularly justified, miRNA-based biomarker era in colorectal cancer," Dr. Lenz said.