ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A blood-based screening test using cell-free DNA to identify methylation signals of hard-to-detect gastrointestinal (GI) cancers that could potentially help detect cancer at earlier stages will be presented 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, taking place January 23-25 in San Francisco, California.
“The potential of this test is to diagnose cancer earlier, when it’s more treatable. The ability to do that across cancer types could be quite valuable. Many of the cancer types that this test detects don’t currently have screening tests that allow earlier cancer detection before the cancers cause symptoms,” said lead investigator Brian M. Wolpin, MD, MPH, who is Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center and Director of the Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
In general, GI cancers are difficult to identify early. The GI organs are deep inside the body, so small tumors can’t easily be seen or felt during routine physical exams. No screening tests are available for cancers like gallbladder, bile duct, and pancreatic cancer. Screening exams do exist for other types of GI cancers, such as colorectal and stomach cancer, but many of these tests are invasive. When GI cancers are diagnosed, they are often at advanced stages that are more difficult to treat. An accurate test based on a simple blood sample could lead to earlier diagnosis for GI cancers.