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DDW: Stool Test Detects Gastrointestinal Cancers

DNA analysis may offer an alternative to more invasive tests such as colonoscopies

TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Stool DNA testing may be a simple, noninvasive way to detect cancers throughout the digestive tract, according to research presented this week at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference, held from May 30 to June 4 in Chicago.

Hongzhi Zou, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues tested 69 patients with cancers of the colon, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, bile duct, gallbladder and small intestine, and 69 cancer-free controls.

The researchers found that stool DNA testing detected 100 percent of stomach and colorectal cancers, 75 percent of bile duct and gallbladder cancers, 65 percent of esophageal cancers, and 55 percent of pancreatic cancers. They also found that testing was equally effective for detecting early-stage and late-stage cancers.

"It's very exciting to see this level of sensitivity for digestive cancer detection in our first look at this test application," co-author, David A. Ahlquist, M.D. also of the Mayo Clinic, said in a statement. "Historically, we've approached cancer screening one organ at a time. Stool DNA testing could shift the strategy of cancer screening to multi-organ, whole-patient testing and could also open the door to early detection of cancers above the colon which are currently not screened. The potential impact of this evolution could be enormous."

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