Blood Test Shows Promise for Early Colorectal Cancer Detection

Novel assay to detect circulating tumor cells has high sensitivity, specificity for precancerous lesions
Novel assay to detect circulating tumor cells has high sensitivity, specificity for precancerous lesions

HealthDay News — Liquid biopsy that identifies circulating tumor cells in a blood sample has high accuracy for detecting colorectal cancer (CRC), according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from January 18 to 20 in San Francisco.

Wen-Sy Tsai, MD, from Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a prospective study to assess a novel assay for detecting and enumerating circulating tumor cells in a blood sample for early CRC detection. The study was conducted among 438 subjects with adenoma, polyps, or stage I to IV CRC and 182 controls. For each subject, 2 mL of peripheral whole blood was collected through a routine blood draw and processed using the CellMax biomimetic platform (CMx). Disease status was evaluated by a standard clinical protocol, including colonoscopy and biopsy results. 

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The researchers found that the overall accuracy for the CMx test was 88% for all stages of colorectal illness, including precancerous lesions. The sensitivity and specificity were 84 and 97.3, respectively, overall (76.6 and 97.3 for precancerous lesions).

"There is still some reticence among patients to use stool-based tests or have an invasive exam like colonoscopy to detect colorectal cancer," Tsai said in a statement. "Our results may point to a solution for people who are reluctant to get an initial screening colonoscopy or are not compliant in returning stool-based test kits that they get from their doctors."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to CellMax Life.

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