Blood test for inflammation may be sign of colon cancer

April 19, 2010

A blood test used to determine the level of inflammation in the body may offer some help in assessing colon cancer risk, according to results of a study to be presented by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's Gong Yang, M.D., MPH, at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Yang and colleagues show that levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation, are increased in women with colon cancer.

Blood tests for CRP are typically used as a non-specific marker for infection and . A more sensitive CRP test (hs-CRP) can help determine risk.

Prior studies suggested an association between elevated CRP levels and colon cancer, which fits with the hypothesis that increases cancer risk. But due to small population sizes and mixed results of the studies, the relationship between CRP and colon cancer risk remains controversial.

"Although cancer-induced inflammation has been proposed to explain the relationship between elevated CRP levels and cancer risk, this hypothesis has not been well evaluated in previous studies," said Yang, a research associate professor of Medicine. "This study, the largest study thus far on circulating CRP and colorectal cancer risk, allows us to test this hypothesis in a more definitive manner."

Yang and colleagues measured CRP levels in blood samples from women participating in the Shanghai Women's Health Study, a large population-based prospective study of nearly 75,000 Chinese women.

In an analysis of 209 cases of colon cancer and 279 healthy controls, the researchers found that women with CRP levels in the highest quartile (the upper 25 percent) had a 2.5-times greater risk of compared with women in the lowest quartile.

To examine if there is a causal relationship between blood CRP levels and colorectal cancer risk, they stratified the samples by the time intervals between collection and disease diagnosis.

They found that the increased risk was primarily seen in women with high blood CRP levels measured within the three years prior to diagnosis. As the interval between the blood draw and cancer diagnosis increased, the association between CRP levels and risk faded.

Because the increased risk associated was greatest in the first years after CRP measurement, Yang believes that high CRP levels may arise largely from the patient's inflammatory response to cancer. Therefore, high CRP may be more of a "risk marker" (something that is detectable as a result of disease) rather than a "risk factor" (something that predisposes one to disease).

Yang will present the results of this study during a press conference on Monday, April 19 at 1:00 p.m. in room 142 of the Washington D.C. Convention Center, during the AACR annual meeting.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover possible master switch for programming cancer immunotherapy

December 11, 2017
During infection or tumor growth, a type of specialized white blood cells called CD8+ T cells rapidly multiply within the spleen and lymph nodes and acquire the ability to kill diseased cells. Some of these killer T cells ...

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

Insights on how SHARPIN promotes cancer progression

December 11, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery (SBP) and the Technion in Israel have found a new role for the SHARPIN protein. In addition to being one of three proteins in the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex ...

Glioblastoma survival mechanism reveals new therapeutic target

December 11, 2017
A Northwestern Medicine study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, has provided new insights into a mechanism of tumor survival in glioblastoma and demonstrated that inhibiting the process could enhance the effects of radiation ...

Liver cancer: Lipid synthesis promotes tumor formation

December 11, 2017
Lipids comprise an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the ...

Use of chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer declines, study says

December 11, 2017
A study of nearly 3,000 women with early stage breast cancer indicates a recent, significant decline in the use of chemotherapy despite the lack of any change in national treatment recommendations or guidelines, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.