Easy DNA Tests Raise Hopes on Colon Cancer

They're less invasive than colonoscopies
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2010 2:27 PM CDT
Easy DNA Tests Raise Hopes on Colon Cancer
DNA tests could help sharply reduce colon cancer.   (Shutterstock)

Doctors believe two new DNA-based tests could sharply reduce colon cancer, and spare millions of people from undergoing colonoscopies. One test, developed by Exact Sciences in Wisconsin, examines stool samples for the presence of four altered genes that are indicative of the cancer. Another group, from Germany, tests blood samples for a different symptomatic gene, the New York Times reports.

The DNA tests are cheaper than colonoscopies and less invasive, which should make patients much more willing to undergo them. “If widely used, this test really does have the opportunity to eliminate colon cancer,” said one Exact Sciences adviser. But the teams haven't convinced everyone, especially each other. Exact Sciences thinks the blood test could reveal cancers anywhere in the body, while the blood team says stool tests will yield too many false alarms. (More colon cancer stories.)

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