If Your Poop Is Neon, You Have Colon Cancer

Sep 05, 2014 at 7:16 AM ET

When detected early, colon cancer has a 90 percent survival rate, yet it remains the second most common cause of cancer-related fatalities in the U.S. The lack of accurate, cost-effective screening is killing people. Current at-home tests are known to be unreliable, and colonoscopies are prohibitively unpleasant and often expensive. But thanks to two Canadian researchers, there may soon be a simple test that will make your poop glow if you have the disease.

Dr. Yingfu Li and Dr. Bruno Salena from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, are working to identify DNA enzymes that will shine in the feces of patients with colorectal cancer, according to CBC Hamilton. Funding their research with an Innovation Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society, they’ve recruited 30 study participants with colon cancer and will enter the next phase of testing within a year.

If successful, their work could lead to the implementation of a simple, noninvasive diagnostic tool that will encourage more people to get tested for the disease. It could also be used to detect other types of cancer.

“We’re really going to do our best to make this happen,” says Salena.