AACR: New Colorectal Cancer Screening Tools Highlighted

Novel DNA methylation screening test may reduce the need for colonoscopy

THURSDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Novel colorectal cancer screening tools and markers as well as a new treatment were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's special conference on Colorectal Cancer: Biology to Therapy, held from Oct. 27 to 30 in Philadelphia.

David Ahlquist, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues evaluated a novel DNA methylation screening test, which was found to have high sensitivity and specificity. The tool was validated in more than 1,100 patients and only requires a stool sample, potentially avoiding more invasive diagnostic techniques such as colonoscopy. The colorectal cancer detection rate was 69 percent for stage IV cancers and 87 percent for stages I to III.

In other research, Lisa A. Boardman, M.D., also of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues compared peripheral blood leukocyte DNA telomere length in 772 patients diagnosed with microsatellite-stable colorectal cancer to telomere length in 1,660 non-related, age-matched, healthy controls. The investigators found that patients with the shortest and longest telomere lengths were at a higher colorectal cancer risk. Also presented at the meeting were findings regarding a variant site -- Jekyll-Hyde microRNA binding variant -- previously linked to poor outcomes in advanced colorectal cancer and now found to be predictive of improved prognosis in early cancer stages.

"Our results suggested that patients with this variant have a good prognosis, but only in early stages. We need to make sure we identify them in an early stage before the cancer progresses," said Kim M. Smits, Ph.D., of the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, lead author of the Jekyll-Hyde study.

The DNA methylation screening test is being developed by Exact Sciences.

Press Release - Ahlquist
Press Release - Boardman
Press Release - Smits
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Beth Gilbert

Beth Gilbert

Updated on October 28, 2010

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