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New blood test shows high accuracy in detecting colorectal cancer, study finds: ‘not interchangeable’

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A simple blood test could detect colorectal cancer (CRC) with more than 80% accuracy, according to a new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included nearly 8,000 people aged 45 to 84, a press release said.

The results of the SHIELD blood test – made by Guardant, a pharmaceutical company in Palo Alto, California – were compared to the results of a colonoscopy procedure, with the latter considered “the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening.” said the press release.

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Among participants whose cases of colorectal cancer were confirmed by colonoscopy, just over 83% tested positive on the blood test and 16.9% tested negative.

The SHIELD test works by detecting signs of colorectal cancer from DNA excreted by tumors, called circulating tumor DNA (cDNA).

blood samples

A simple blood test could detect colorectal cancer (CRC) with more than 80% accuracy, according to a new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington. (iStock)

The test was most effective at detecting colorectal cancers and least effective at detecting precancerous lesions, the researchers found.

The SHIELD blood test is intended to be used for colorectal cancer screening in people who are at “average risk” and have no symptoms, noted study co-author William M. Grady, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Washington.

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“The accuracy rate for colorectal cancer is similar to that of at-home stool tests used for early detection of colorectal cancer,” Grady told Fox News Digital.

The study had some limitations, he acknowledged.

“The study was done (among) people at average risk, and that’s who the test is aimed at,” he said.

medications and laboratory tests

The new blood test is intended to be used as a colorectal cancer screen in people who are at “average risk” – and who have no symptoms. (iStock)

The test is currently not intended for use in people at high risk, such as those with a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel diseasehe clarified.

The condition of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States

This is expected to cause 53,010 deaths in 2024, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

People at average risk should start regular screenings at age 45, the ACS recommends.

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“Colorectal cancer is largely preventable, and there are currently screening tests such as colonoscopy, FIT stool tests and MT stool DNA testing that can prevent it,” he said.

The problem, Grady pointed out, is that about 40 to 50 percent of people who should get tested don’t.

Man taking blood

“Blood-based screening tests are more acceptable to people than colonoscopy and stool tests and will likely increase screening compliance.” (iStock)

The hope is that a blood test would help increase screening rates.

Blood screening tests are more acceptable to people than colonoscopy and stool tests and will likely increase screening compliance,” Grady said. “This could lead to fewer CRC-related deaths.”

Some doctors have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the blood test, including its lower sensitivity to precancerous symptoms.

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“Due to insufficient detection of adenomas, these new blood tests will not be as effective as Cologuard (the stool sample test), even when their adherence is perfect, compared to current compliance with Cologuard,” said Dr Mark Fendrick from the University. from the Michigan School of Public Health, in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.

Fendrick was not involved in the NEJM study.

Man donating blood

“It is exciting to have data on a new blood screening test for colorectal cancer. If approved, it will help identify people who will need a colonoscopy to confirm the diagnosis and ultimately help save lives. (iStock)

The American Gastroenterological Association released a statement in response to the NEJM study.

“It is exciting to have data on a new blood screening test for colorectal cancer. If approved, it will help identify people who will need a colonoscopy to confirm the diagnosis and ultimately help save lives ” said Barbara H. Jung, MD, president of the American Gastroenterological Association, in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.

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The association cautioned, however, that blood tests do not detect precancerous polyps, which colonoscopies can detect.

“The blood test reported in the New England Journal of Medicine study is only designed to detect cancers and not precancerous polyps,” Jung noted.

However, blood tests do not detect precancerous polyps, which colonoscopies can detect.

“Blood tests are not interchangeable with colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening, but should prove to be an additional tool to help identify colorectal cancer at an early stage.”

Blood tests could be recommended to patients who refuse all other recommended tests, Jung noted – “since any screening is better than no screening at all.”

a couple holds hands on a date

One expert said blood tests could be recommended to patients who refuse all other recommended tests – “since any screening is better than no screening at all.” (iStock)

Those interested in the SHIELD blood test should consult their primary care providerGrady said.

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“This is important given that currently, while people have the option of being screened for CRC with a stool-based test or with a colonoscopy, half of people choose to do neither. ‘neither one,’ he added.

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