Epigenetic alterations by promoter DNA hypermethylation and gene silencing in cancer have been reported over the past few decades. DNA hypermethylation has great potential to serve as a screening marker, a prognostic marker, and a therapeutic surveillance marker in cancer clinics. Some bodily fluids, such as stool or urine, were obtainable without any invasion to the body. Thus, such bodily fluids were suitable samples for high throughput cancer surveillance. Analyzing the methylation status of bodily fluids around the cancer tissue may, additionally, lead to the early detection of cancer, because several genes in cancer tissues are reported to be cancer-specifically hypermethylated. Recently, several studies that analyzed the methylation status of DNA in bodily fluids were conducted, and some of the results have potential for future development and further clinical use. In fact, a stool DNA test was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the screening of colorectal cancer. Another promising methylation marker has been identified in various bodily fluids for several cancers. We reviewed studies that analyzed DNA methylation in bodily fluids as a less-invasive cancer screening.
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