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Can Colon Cancer Detection Be as Easy as Eating Yogurt?

Colorectal cancer (or colon cancer) is one of the most treatable iterations of the disease if it is detected early. In fact, 90 percent of those who are diagnosed early survive for at least five years. But in the United States, only 40 percent of people are diagnosed early, due in large part to failure to get screened, and in poor countries testing is rare. Now a professor from MIT has developed a colorectal cancer screening method that is simple as eating a cup of yogurt and then doing a simple urine test.

Sangeeta Bhatia has developed a method of engineering a specific bacteria found in yogurt so that it interacts with cancer cells and produces a nanoparticle biomarker. The biomarker is then collected and concentrated by the kidneys and excreted as urine. Though her initial approach involved laboratory analysis of the urine, she has now developed a paper-based urine test similar to home pregnancy tests. Studies testing laboratory animals for colorectal cancer and liver fibrosis have been successful. Bhatia hopes that the test will become widely available so that more people will have early testing, and is particularly interested in its use in poor countries where screening is rare.

Early diagnosis of colorectal cancer is Sangeeta Bhatia’s goal, but for those whose cancer has progressed to an advanced stage, life holds special challenges. Fifth Season Financial offers a cancer loan program that is designed to eliminate economic stress and allow cancer patients and their families the freedom to make decisions without financial concerns.

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