Urine test could point out colon cancers

Colon cancer diagnosis could one day be as easy as peeing in a pot. Well, perhaps that's simplifying things a little, but researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center have found a urine biomarker than could point out when colon polyps are likely to turn into colon cancer.

Colon adenomas, also known as adenomatous polyps, are benign growths in the colon that can turn into cancer, and tests include colonoscopies, which are invasive and uncomfortable. Most people with colorectal cancers have increased levels of the enzyme COX-2, and this leads to increased levels of prostaglandin E2, and of PGE-M, which is found in the urine. The team at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center set out to see if PGE-M could be a potential urinary biomarker, by screening people with advanced adenomas or single or multiple small tubular adenomas and comparing them with people with no adenomas.

The PGE-M levels were similar in people with no adenomas or with a single small tubular adenoma, which is at low risk of developing into cancer. However, people (especially women) with advanced or multiple small tubular adenomas, who are at higher risk of developing cancer, had higher levels of PGE-M in their urine. This suggests that PGE-M could be a useful way to screen people for their risk of developing colon cancer.

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- see the abstract