Researchers at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center’s Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered a new method to detect colon cancer early. The new, non invasive method, which is under research, refers to DNA testing in stool.
Colon cancer is currently detected by colonoscopy, an invasive method that help visualize the patient’s entire colon. This method is quite reliable but quite painful for the patient because it is an invasive method of exploration. Colonoscopy uses a tiny, flexible instrument which is attached a camera through which the doctor can view both colon and rectum. With colonoscopy the clinician can find polyps, ulcerated areas, swelling, or bleeding tumors. Also, the doctor may biopsy the lesion found and thus can differentiate between benign or malignant tumors. In addition, the doctor can remove by colonoscopy a superficial lesion.
New method for detecting colon cancer on early stage was discovered in the laboratory of Sanford Markowitz, MD, Ph.D., oncologist with the UH Seidman Cancer Center and Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and is the recommended screening method by the American Cancer Society.
Improved methods of screening and early diagnosis of colon cancer is extremely important if we consider that this type of cancer is ranked 2 in U.S. mortality. Moreover, early detection is important because colon cancer is part of cancers that can be prevented. To date, colonoscopy is considered the method of choice but is underused by patients. Dr. Cooper, who is clinical Primary Investigator for the study, said: “Colonoscopy is truly the best test but it has its limitations and it is vastly underutilized and by the public”. Therefore, DNA testing is a good alternative for patients who want to use colonoscopy.
The new method for screening is based on changes that occur in the DNA in colon cancer. The team found that by using some sensitive technique that identifies vimentin gene methylation can detect colon cancer in stool. This new screening method is still being researched and is tested on patients with colon polyps (with a high degree of malignancy) to compare the effectiveness of this method with the current standard method, ie colonoscopy. Stanton Gerson, MD, Director, UH Seidman Cancer Center and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, said that their goal is to implement a method which bring superior outcomes to the patient and decrease mortality due to colon cancer .