March 8, 2009

Non-invasive Test Effective for Colorectal Cancer Screening


Non-invasive Test Effective for Colorectal Cancer Screening

A new, non-invasive colorectal cancer screening test from Exact Sciences is now available and supported by the American Cancer Society and other major medical groups. Study results showing the test’s efficacy have been reported in the April 2008 supplement of Gastroenterology.

Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. If colorectal is detected early, prior to spread from its site of origin, cure rates at five years following diagnosis are over 90%. Unfortunately, once the cancer has spread, cure rates fall dramatically.

Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for all individuals starting at the age of 50, or younger if they are at a high risk for the disease. The standard screening test for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy, a procedure in which early cancers, and even pre-cancerous areas, can be detected and removed. A colonoscopy involves the insertion of a lighted tube with an attached camera through the entire large intestine. As the lighted tube moves through the intestine, the physician can visualize the colon through a monitor.

Unfortunately, due to the invasive nature of a colonoscopy, as well as the bowel preparation and sedation involved in the procedure, a significant portion of individuals do not undergo the procedure. Researchers have been evaluating ways to achieve accurate colorectal cancer screening coupled with patient compliance.

The new Exact Sciences screening test for colorectal cancer tests DNA from a stool sample. The test is more advanced than other stool DNA tests and its accuracy has recently been validated in clinical trials. Patients perform the test at home, using a kit; the process involves obtaining a stool sample and mailing it to a laboratory for testing.

In the most recent study, 283 patients had undergone a colonoscopy 6-14 days prior to taking the Exact Science test; 241 patients had a normal colonoscopy, and 42 patients had colorectal cancer diagnosed from colonoscopy.

Results indicated that the Exact Science test accurately detected 86% of all colorectal cancers, regardless of their stage

Because the Exact Science test has been proven accurate, patients now have available to them an easy, non-invasive screening test that does not require sedation, changes in eating habits, medication, bowel preparation, or an office visit. Patients who are 50 years or older and do not have any symptoms of colon cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of colon cancer screening with the Exact Science test.

For more information on this noninvasive screening test for colorectal cancer, please visit

Reference: Itzkowitz SH, Brand R, Jandorf L, Rabeneck L, Schroy PC, Sontag SJ, Johnson DA, Markowitz S, Millholland JM, Durkee KH, Paszat L, Berger BM. Improved non-invasive stool DNA (sDNA) test to screen for colorectal cancer (CRC): validation of high sensitivity and specificity. Gastroenterology. 134: A-483, 2008.

Related News:

Physicians Influence Rates of Colorectal Screening (02/13/2008)

Fecal Immunochemical Test Detects High Percentage of Colon Cancers (9/28/2007)

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