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The Epoch TimesResearch Finds Safer Way to Detect Colon Polyps

Microbiota signatures specific to particular precancerous colon polyps could result in more accurate tests with lower risk.

An intriguing study by leading institutions has identified a unique microbial fingerprint in the gut of patients with precancerous colon polyps, suggesting that a non-invasive stool test could transform detection of colorectal cancers.

Key Points:

  • The study was conducted by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Researchers compared stool samples and colonoscopies of 971 participants to study the gut microbiome.
  • A distinct microbial fingerprint was found in those with tubular adenomas and sessile serrated adenomas, both premalignant colon lesions.
  • Nineteen (19) different bacterial species were detected in patients with tubular adenomas and eight in those with sessile serrated adenomas.
  • The findings hint at the potential of stool tests to reduce the number of invasive colonoscopies.
  • The study also explores the possibility of using bacteria as a probiotic supplement to reduce colon cancer risk.

Additional Points:

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, with rising incidences in young adults and developing countries.
  • Colonoscopy, an invasive procedure, is the current gold standard for detecting colorectal cancers.
  • Polyps, abnormal cell growths, are common in adults but not all turn into cancer.
  • A 2018 Johns Hopkins study highlighted infection risks associated with outpatient colonoscopies.
  • Current alternative tests to colonoscopy include the fecal immunochemical test, fecal occult blood tests, and stool DNA tests.
  • Lifestyle changes, including diet, influence intestinal bacteria, but the exact relationship between bacteria and polyps remains unclear.


  • This research underscores the potential of leveraging the gut microbiome for early detection of colorectal cancers, potentially transforming diagnostic approaches and patient outcomes.

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“The goal is ultimately to determine if there are species of bacteria we want to use to influence our patients’ outcomes. Getting to this point is still a ways away.”

Dr. Daniel C. Chung
Medical Co-Director of the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment
Mass General Cancer Center
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