19 May 2018

A blood test for bowel cancer?

From This Way Up, 12:45 pm on 19 May 2018
blood test

Photo: 123rf

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world – 3,000 diagnoses and 1,200 deaths per year.

Now a University of Otago team are developing a blood test for detecting it, using genetic information produced by tumours.

The hope is that this could be used for earlier detection and better treatments.

Kirsty Danielson

Photo: Otago University Wellington

Dr Kirsty Danielson, from the University of Otago, Wellington, has just been awarded a Health Research Council grant to develop a way to detect chemicals in the blood that are linked to the presence of cancerous tumours.

As well as offering earlier diagnosis than conventional methods, the testing system could also be used to predict the most effective treatments, measuring the likely response to radiation therapy versus surgery to remove a tumour.