2 Nov 2012

New test developed in fight against bowel cancer

9:22 pm on 2 November 2012

Scientists in Australia have developed a new blood test that can identify bowel cancer.

They're hoping the breakthrough will encourage more people to get tested, the ABC reports.

While current tests are effective, the take-up rate is low, with many people choosing not to be screened.

Researchers from the CSIRO and Clinical Genomics say they have developed a blood test which can pick up the presence of bowel tumours.

Researcher Larry La Pointe said they have identified a group of genes which are modified in patients who have colorectal cancer.

"The breakthrough is that we have been able to identify the changes in the blood of those patients."

Blood tests on almost 300 people showed it was more than 70% accurate in picking up the presence of tumours.

"That means in patients with the disease, we were able to identify it three out of four times," Mr La Pointe said.

The test is being trialled on 3000 patients and could be available as early as next year. Scientists hope the development will encourage more people to get tested.

Bobby McKeown is one person who did not take a bowel cancer test he was sent as part of the Australian government's screening programme.

"Nobody wants to be told they have got cancer. So if I don't do the test, I'm not going to be told."

Six months later, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

"I've still got a way to go on the journey and a few things have changed, but I am cancer free," he said.