Cancer Test Alternatives

What are the alternative tests for liver cancer?

Some patients at high risk for liver cancer are screened. Most cases of liver cancer, however, are found after the patient has been experiencing symptoms.

These are tests used to screen for liver cancer:

Imaging tests

  • Ultrasound — Often the first test used to look at the liver. These tests, using sound waves, can show tumors growing in the liver.
  • CT scans — Computed tomography creates detailed images of the body, and can help find many types of liver tumors.
  • MRIs — Using magnetic fields and radio waves, MRIs also provide detailed images of soft tissues. These are so detailed they can sometimes discern a benign tumor from a malignant one. They can also look at blood vessels in and around the liver to see any blockages.
  • Angiography — These x-ray tests are used to look at the arteries that supply blood to the liver.


This removal of a tissue sample can sometimes be the only way to completely verify if a patient has liver cancer. By inserting a needle into the tumor or otherwise disturbing it, however, there is a chance of spreading cancer along the needle’s path. There are different types of biopsies:

  • Needle biopsy — A hollow needle is inserted through the skin of the abdomen and into the liver.
  • Laparoscopic biopsy — Taking biopsy samples during laparoscopy is common.
  • Surgical biopsy — A piece of the tumor or the entire tumor with some surrounding normal liver tissue is removed through an incision.

Blood tests

Blood tests give clues to the liver function and can determine if the patient has liver cancer and what might have caused it:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein blood (AFP) test — AFP is a protein that often shows up in high levels in adults with liver disease or liver cancer. However, many patients with early liver cancer have normal levels of AFP, so it’s not always helpful in determining if liver cancer is present.
  • Viral hepatitis test — Blood tests check for hepatitis B and C, as liver cancer often develops in livers already damage by these conditions.
  • Liver function tests — These tests tell doctors the condition of the patient’s liver. This can guide treatment.
  • Blood clotting tests — The liver makes proteins that help blood clot. This can show a liver damaged by cancer.
  • Kidney function tests — Testing for blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels show how the liver is functioning.
  • Blood chemistry tests — These tests show the levels of a variety of substances in the patient’s blood, some of which may be affected by liver cancer.

However the mentioned tests for liver cancer do have some serious drawbacks:

  • Liver cancer is difficult to confirm and has a high mortality rate.
  • Five-year survival rates for patients with liver cancer are about 18 percent.
  • Protein markers, such as AFP (see above) can be inaccurate for detecting early liver cancers.
  • Successfully treating liver cancer requires early verification, as early-stage tumors can be surgically removed. Later diagnosis often has allowed the cancers to become too advanced to be operable.

What are the benefits of the IvyGene liver cancer test?

  • The IvyGene liver cancer test uses a blood draw, rather than a biopsy. These tests confirm hypermethylated DNA at multiple gene targets. This has a high correlation in patients with liver cancer.
  • These tests streamline the confirmation of liver cancer in patients at higher risk for developing the disease. These are patients with cirrhosis, hepatitis, NALFD, and certain other diseases.
  • The IvyGene liver cancer test analyzes methylation ratios at specific gene targets to confirm the presence of liver cancer. Those targets were developed through artificial intelligence and next-generation sequencing technology, which were a byproduct of the decoding of the human genome.
  • The IvyGene test produced a sensitivity of 80% and specificity of 86% on both cancer and healthy patients. Other biomarker tests produced sensitivities ranging from only 21% up to 80%, and specificity of 60% up to 85%.

What are the alternative tests for colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer (colon cancer) has strong genetic tendencies, so screening for this form of cancer is important to early detection. Also, colon cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms until the disease is advanced.

These are the current tests typically used to screen for colon cancer:

  • Colonoscopy — A colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and the entire colon to look for polyps or cancer. Polyps can be removed or removed and examined as a biopsy with the colonoscope.
  • CT colonography — Sometimes called virtual colonoscopy, this screening method may be used for patients who cannot have anesthesia for a colonoscopy or have a blockage in the colon that prevents examination.
  • Sigmoidoscopy — This is, in effect, a partial colonoscopy of the rectum and lower colon.
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT) — These tests are used to find blood in the stool, which can be a sign of polyps or colon cancer. However, these tests can deliver positive results due to causes that are not cancer or polyps, which is a serious drawback to their effectiveness. For instance, bleeding in the stomach or upper GI tract and even eating rare meat can cause some blood to show up in the stool.
  • Double-contrast barium enema — This test is generally for patients who cannot have a colonoscopy. An enema containing barium is given, which helps the colon and rectum stand out on x-rays. These tests are less likely to detect precancerous polyps that the other tests.
  • Stool DNA tests — This test analyzes the DNA from a patient’s stool sample to look for cancer. Changes in the DNA occur in polyps and cancers.

What are the benefits of the IvyGene Core Test for colon cancer?

  • The IvyGene CORE test uses a blood draw, rather than a biopsy.
  • The IvyGene CORE test confirms hypermethylated DNA from multiple gene targets. Methylation is an epigenetic marker that acts both as an indicator and regulator of gene expression. Basically, this identifies which genes are turned on or turned off, which helps identify when cancer is present.
  • Methylation is a highly reliable tool to confirm cancer presence, whereas simply identifying genetic mutations can be random.
  • The IvyGene test produced a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 90% on both cancer and healthy patients. Other biomarker tests produced sensitivities ranging from only 21% up to 80%, and specificity of 60% up to 77%.

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For more information about the alternative cancer test, please contact us with your questions. We’ll guide you through the process to find a provider and get tested.

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