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While colorectal cancer is often highly treatable when it is detected in its early stages, many individuals avoid screening because most testing measures are unpleasant. However, researchers from Tel Aviv University have found that a simple blood test may be sufficient for detecting the disease early on.
The team of investigators compared the blood test results of 3,000 patients suffering from colorectal cancer to samples taken from 10,000 cancer-free individuals. They found that those who had cancer showed consistently declining levels of hemoglobin for several years before they were diagnosed.
Inbal Goldshtein, who led the study, said that the correlation between hemoglobin levels and colorectal cancer is not new to medicine. However, most doctors look for sharp declines in hemoglobin levels as evidence of cancer. These results show that the disease can be detected years earlier by paying attention to how those levels are trending.
"In practice, a doctor will look at the final results, and see if the hemoglobin levels are within a normal range," she said. "But this is not accurate enough. It is important to look at the continuing trend of each individual. If a person experiences a consistent decline relative to his own average level, it may be cause for concern."
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