New Blood Test May Make Screening for Colorectal Cancer Easier

Mar 5, 2019

Researchers at West Virginia University Cancer Institute are studying whether a blood test could detect colorectal cancer.

According to a press release, the first of its kind blood test looks for an abnormal gene associated with colorectal cancer. If the gene is detected after the screening test, a healthcare provider would recommend the patient for a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are semi-invasive procedures used to diagnose and treat precancerous tumors or early cancer.

Despite high rates of colorectal cancer -- West Virginia ranks third in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – screening rates here are low with only about 66 percent of West Virginians reporting being up to date with tests.

Researchers said people delay or do not screen due to fear, lack of access to care, lack of insurance that covers the test, travel and time among other things. The hope is that the new test will lower the barrier to testing and help catch early cases of cancer before they progress.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.