Russian researchers have developed a new method that can improve diagnosis of colorectal cancer or what is commonly known as bowel cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer and it develops with minimal clinical symptoms in the early stages.
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Despite doctors’ efforts, the five-year survival rate does not exceed 36 percent. Treatment is only effective, and patients only have a good chance of recovery, if the cancer is detected early.
Diagnostic methods that are currently in use are not sufficient. Analyses carried out in vitro have low specificity and invasive studies such as colonoscopy are not only traumatic, but they are also not always suitable for an early diagnosis, as they do not give a complete picture of the development and distribution of colorectal cancer.
The new method proposed by the scientists is based on the simultaneous detection of various substances in patients’ blood.
These substances are autoantibodies against tumour-associated biological molecules called glycans, which can be found in serum at the early stages of cancer.
Tumour cells have special glycans enabling scientists to differentiate them from healthy cells, and this is the key aspect of the new study.
“The method developed at EIMB RAS (Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow) has great potential to be used in diagnosing gastrointestinal diseases. We hope that testing systems based on the method will soon appear in clinical laboratories in Russia,” said one of the authors Zhanna Zubtsova, assistant professor at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).
The results of the study were published in the journal Cancer Medicine.
The researchers said that the method surpasses all other existing methods. The model of the test-system based on diagnostic signatures was able to diagnose colorectal cancer in 95 percent of cases, compared to 79 percent detected by traditional methods.
The sensitivity of detection (in patients with advanced bowel cancer) was 87 percent versus 21 percent.
This increase is clearly a significant achievement, the researchers said.