Routine Blood Tests Gives Early Warning for Colon Cancer
Anemia, a blood disorder which is characterized by low levels of hemoglobin, has long been associated with those suffering from colorectal cancer or cancer of the digestive tract (large intestine). But researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, found that, more than one symptom of active disease, low hemoglobin level can actually demonstrate the potential of colon cancer several years before being diagnosed.
Inbal Goldshtein, a graduate student, who worked with Dr. Gabriel Chodick and Dr Varda Shalev in the Faculty of Public Health University of Tel Aviv, said that considering the results of routine blood tests can be an effective early warning system to detect colon cancer, so one can get immediate treatment. “This screening was significantly better to reduce the numbers of risk of death from colon cancer,” said Goldshtein according to Sciencedaily.
This study, which was recently published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, showed that most colon cancer patients had a history of consistently declining hemoglobin levels up to four years before being diagnosed with this disease. Previously, Goldshtein said, researchers are looking for a sharp decrease in hemoglobin concentration as a symptom of colon cancer. But Goldshtein and her fellow researchers have found that the decrease in hemoglobin concentration in sustainable long-term can give early warning of colon cancer. Observing decline trend of more than 0.28 grams per deciliter every six months for four years, can serve as an early warning.
More than 3,000 patients suffering from colorectal cancer participated in this study. They were compared with 10,000 cases in the control group without colorectal cancers. Goldshtein and his colleagues watched the blood of each participant’s data for ten years.
Although hemoglobin levels can vary in each person as a result of aging, a different trend was found among study participants who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer during the study period. About four years prior to diagnosis, blood tests showed they began continuous decline in hemoglobin.
Goldshtein says, “In practice, the doctor will see the final results, and see if the hemoglobin level is within the normal range.” But, according to him, this is not quite accurate. He warned, if someone is having a consistent decrease in hemoglobin levels compared with the average person, it might be worrying.