It's All in Your Poo: DNA Test is Better at Spotting Colon Cancer

Scientists have discovered a new, less invasive way to screen for colon cancer, HealthDay News reported Wednesday.

It simply involves looking at your poo and your DNA.

In the past, doctors looked for blood in stool samples, but experts said the DNA-based test is more effective.

“This is a very important finding in that if you don’t detect the precancerous lesions, you don’t actually prevent cancer,” said Dr. David A. Ahlquist, a professor of medicine, and a gastroenterology consultant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“The problem increasingly sensitive DNA testing addresses is that blood as a marker for colon cancer has limitations,” Ahlquist said. “Because most polyps basically don’t bleed. In contrast, all precancerous polyps shed cells that contain abnormal DNA. So, a stool-based DNA test is a strategically more rational approach.”

The finding was reported in the Oct. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common death among cancers in the United States, Ahlquist said, although it is considered curable if it is detected early and before it spreads. (Lung cancer is the first most common death among cancers).

A colonoscopy is still considered the most effective option when it comes to screening for colon cancer, but this new kind of testing is less evasive and designed to encourage patients to start the screening process.

Ahlquist said the new method is approved and available for use.

Click here to learn more about this story.