Somerville, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— One hundred forty-eight thousand Americans are diagnosed every year with colorectal cancer. In up to 40 percent of those patients, cancer will come back after treatment. Now, a simple blood test done at home 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,” Jones recalled.
Scott 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,” Jones shared.
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 phlebotomist visits Scott at home to draw blood for a test called Signatera. It 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,” explained Thangamani Seenivasan, MD, a 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 say 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,” elaborated Dr. Seenivasan.
After years of battling cancer, for Scott, the earlier doctors catch rogue cells the better.
“Now there’s another tool to hopefully keep me free and clear going down the road,” shared Jones.
In addition to colon cancer, the Signatera test is used in non-small cell lung cancer, breast, and bladder cancers. Earlier this year, Medicare approved covering Signatera for patients with stage two and three colorectal cancer.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.