Health Watch

Stopping colon cancer

Monday, July 09, 2012

Colon cancer touches the lives of 150 thousand people in the U.S each year, and is the second leading cancer killer. While one of the deadliest, it's also one of the most preventable, if caught early. Now a new test could help save thousands from it.

Nothing makes Reba Streaker happier than surrounding herself with flowers, and just like her precious plants, she knows she has to take care of herself and that means screening for colon cancer.

"I had a friend who did not have a colonoscopy or any of the screenings or anything and then it became so obvious that it was too late and she lost her life to it," Reba Streaker told Action News.

That's why Reba enrolled in a study for a new DNA test to detect colon cancer. All colon cancers start as polyps. As those polyps develop, they shed cells into the stool stream. Some of these cells contain altered DNA. The new investigational test detects the abnormality in the patient's stool.

"It's a huge breakthrough. If it works as well as it seems to, then it will be a much easier way of screening for colon cancer then having them go through the colonoscopy," Steven geller, M.D., DeeP-C Study principal investigator and medical director at the Centennial Medical Group in Elkridge, MD, explained.

The in-home test could catch cancerous and precancerous tumors early, before they turn deadly.

"You can cut it out before it ever becomes cancerous and so nobody has to die from colon cancer," Dr. Geller said.

In another recent study, researchers found the test detected 87 percent of colorectal cancer in curable stages. Once detected, you still need to have a colonoscopy to find the cells and remove them, but the new non-invasive test could help persuade those who'd ordinarily shy away from a colonoscopy.

"It tells you if this test is positive, you definitely need a colonoscopy," Dr. Geller said.

A test Reba is positive about too.

"I hope this works for other people and other generations so we can save lives," Rena said.

The so-called DeeP-C Study is currently recruiting participants in more than 80 locations across the U.S. and Canada. For information on how you can participate, log onto www.exactsciences.com. If approved by the FDA, the test could be available to patients in 2014.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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