By EMILY FORD, Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Blood and urine tests could one day replace colonoscopy to diagnose colon cancer, suggests a discovery made by scientists at the

Dr. Wei Jia, co-director of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s in Kannapolis, suspects that chemicals in blood and urine might signal colorectal cancer. It’s the first step toward developing a cheaper, less invasive alternative to colonoscopy, he said.

Jia’s team in China and Kannapolis analyzed urine and blood samples from 123 people — 60 with colon cancer and 63 without. They identified 16 chemicals in urine and 33 in blood that were present in unusual amounts in the cancer patients.

"We still have a long way to go," said Jia, who works at the biotechnology hub in downtown Kannapolis.

For details, read the

Get the latest news alerts: at Twitter.