Your Health: Blood tests to detect cancer and recurrence

Health Reports

One hundred forty eight thousand Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year.

Now a simple blood test can be done at home which can give doctors an early idea if cancer will recur up to a year before other diagnostic tests would catch the spreading cells.

When Scott Jones got winded walking around his house, he assumed it was his age or his heart. Instead doctors diagnosed the 58-year-old with colon cancer.

“They said it was an aggressive form of cancer,” said Scott Jones, Patient.

Jones was no stranger to cancer. Before the colon cancer diagnosis, he had 14 cases of skin cancer.

“I’ve had over a hundred stitches in my face and you really can’t see,” said Jones.

Two weeks after his colon cancer diagnosis, Scott’s doctor removed a golf ball sized tumor and part of his colon.

Then doctors added something new, a philebotomist visits Jones at home to draw blood for a test called Signatera.

Signatera detects cancer cells that might have been left behind.

“When somebody has a tumor and the tumors spread, obviously they are circulating in their bloodstream,” said Thangamani Seenivasan, MD, Surgical Oncologist at Somerset Surgical Associates.

Scott’s blood is checked for circulating tumor DNA, the mutations found in each patient’s individual tumor.

Researchers said that the test can detect cancer recurrence up to one year before other tests and can help doctors tell if a cancer therapy is working.

“If for some reason the circulating tumor DNA is persistent, it also tells us probably this is not the effective treatment,” said Dr. Seenivasan.

After years of battling cancer, for Jones, the earlier that the doctors can catch rouge cells, the better.

“Now there’s another tool to hopefully keep me free and clear going down the road,” said Jones.

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