Researchers from OncoMethylome Sciences in Belgium carried out DNA tests on 193 colorectal cancer patients and 688 controls. They found that two genes, SYNE1 and FOXE, occurred with high frequency in cancer patients, but were rarely found in healthy controls.
They then developed a blood test for these genes. It was 77% sensitive and 91% specific for colorectal cancer.
Researchers from Germany have developed a separate new test to help diagnose colonic, rectal and gastric cancers.
Professor Ulrike Stein from the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin and her team examined RNA in blood plasma samples from patients with GI tumours.
They found that the S100A4 mRNA transcript was present at significantly higher levels in patients with the cancer than healthy controls.
The researchers believe their test may be useful for screening at-risk populations.
Both studies' findings were presented at the European Cancer Organization-European Society for Medical Oncology conference in Berlin this week.