Can a new cancer screening test replace colonoscopy for colerectal cancer? The NY Times explores.

Can a new cancer screening test replace colonoscopy for colerectal cancer? The NY Times explores.

Have you ever had a coloscopy, that test where you need to do that awful prep and then be put under anesthesia as you spend a day at a surgicenter near you? If you are over 50, you may have had one already or perhaps your doctor is now pressing you to consider this test which is the gold standard for saving lives. The problem with the test is both the cost and the fact that as a screen, it cannot be done on masses of patients conveniently, quickly and at a reasonable cost.

A new test has just entered the market that can be effective in detecting most cases of colerectal cancer, which may have the potential to determine who may be in need of a colonoscopy and who can perhaps avoid the test. It is totally possible that this new tests, and perhaps other newer ones in the development pipeline may eventually replace the need to colonoscopy to the masses. Check out this new article in the NY Times.

Noninvasive Cancer Test Is Effective, Study Finds

Published: April 18, 2013

A new noninvasive screening test can detect most cases of colorectal cancer and also many precancerous polyps, potentially helping to sharply reduce the death toll from the disease, according to results of a study released on Thursday.

Still, the results fell short of investor expectations and even those of the company that developed the test, the Exact Sciences Corporation, sending its shares down about 20 percent in afternoon trading on Thursday.

In its news release about the study Thursday morning, Exact Sciences said its test detected 92 percent of the cancers picked up by colonoscopy, and 42 percent of potentially precancerous polyps. It had a false positive rate of 13 percent.

The test looks for alterations in human DNA found in a stool sample. The company contends that people will not find it off-putting to deposit a sample of their stool in the company’s collection apparatus and mail it to a laboratory.

The new test, called Cologuard, would not replace colonoscopy. Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colorectal screening, in part because any polyps detected can also be removed during a colonoscopy, possibly preventing cancer.

But about half of people over 50, the recommended age to start screening for colorectal cancer, are either not adequately screened or not screened at all, in part because colonoscopy is invasive, uncomfortable, expensive and time-consuming.

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