DALLAS (KFSN) --Colon cancer kills 50,000 Americans each year. It's preventable, but many Americans fear colonoscopies. What if all it took was a simple blood test to determine the potential for colon and other cancers? How many lives could be saved? Doctors are closing in on answers.
All it takes is a few drops of blood to determine if a person has genetic markers for colon cancer. In trials now, the test could eventually be part of a routine exam.
Ajay Goel, M.D., the director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Research at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, told Ivanhoe, "Once that happens I think that would be an absolute breakthrough, because now we can simply take a drop of blood and determine your risk for developing colon cancer."
Genetic markers have already helped Paul Kodros. He delayed his colonoscopy, even though his mother died from colon cancer.
Kodros explained, "I waited till I was 42, got my first colonoscopy, came out with 14 polyps, didn't know what that meant till the doctor said, 'yeah, if you waited till you were 50, you might not be around.'"
Genetic markers are so precise they see potential cancer before it develops, which means fewer invasive procedures, and less toxic chemo.
Dr. Ajay said, "All of the lines, they show the same height, which means he's clean, none of the markers are positive and the chance of him developing colon cancer is quite low."
Eventually doctors say other cancers will be detected the same way, through a routine blood test during an exam.
"From a single drop of blood or from the same tube of blood, we are measuring glucose or cholesterol and determining your risk for cancer."
For Kodros that means reassurance that he probably will not develop colon cancer.
Kodros told Ivanhoe, "Early detection, better outcomes, and happier, longer lives."
The CDC recommends colorectal screening every ten years beginning at age 50, but age 40 to 45 for people with a family history that places them at higher risk.