Background: Several approaches have been suggested to be useful in the early detection of colorectal neoplasms. Since metabolites are closely related to the phenotype and are available from different human bio-fluids, metabolomics are candidates for non-invasive early detection of colorectal neoplasms. Objectives: We aimed to summarize current knowledge on performance characteristics of metabolomics biomarkers that are potentially applicable in a screening setting for the early detection of colorectal neoplasms. Design: We conducted a systematic literature search in PubMed and Web of Science and searched for biomarkers for the early detection of colorectal neoplasms in easy-to-collect human bio-fluids. Information on study design and performance characteristics for diagnostic accuracy was extracted. Results: Finally, we included 41 studies in our analysis investigating biomarkers in different bio-fluids (blood, urine, and feces). Although single metabolites mostly had limited ability to distinguish people with and without colorectal neoplasms, promising results were reported for metabolite panels, especially amino acid panels in blood samples, as well as nucleosides in urine samples in several studies. However, validation of the results is limited. Conclusions: Panels of metabolites consisting of amino acids in blood and nucleosides in urinary samples might be useful biomarkers for early detection of advanced colorectal neoplasms. However, to make metabolomic biomarkers clinically applicable, future research in larger studies and external validation of the results is required.
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