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New Noninvasive Test Could Help Diagnose More Cases of Colon Cancer

2 comments

A colonoscopy is not a fun procedure, but an important one nontheless. By the time you are 50 years old, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that you begin having regular colonoscopies to detect colon cancer. True, the CDC recommends one colonoscopy every ten years which isn't the end of the world when you're talking about detecting cancerous polyps before it's too late. But the procedure is uncomfortable since it involves places a lighted tube up the rectum to look at the interior walls.

There may soon be a way to avoid the pain and hassle of a colonoscopy, say scientists. A new noninvasive screening test can detect most precancerous polyps according to a study released last Thursday. The screening test developer, the Exact Sciences Corporation, says that its product has detected 92% of cancers detected by colonoscopies and 42%
of precancerous polyps. The test looks for alterations in human DNA derived from a stool sample. Unfortunately, the test did not pan out the way that the company had hoped with the lower than expected detection abilities. So it is perhaps safe to say that colonoscopies will still be the tried and true method of detecting colon cancer.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to get people to go in for their colonoscopies because they are invasive, expensive, and time-consuming. Exact Sciences hopes that its noninvasive test could be used as an initial test and that patients who test positive could then be persuaded to undergo a followup colonoscopy. This is a promising move considering that 143,000 new cases of colon cancer are detected every year with 52,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.

2 Comments

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  1. Robert Miller says:
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    “unfortunately” you have no understanding of this test or the value of the detection rates found.

    This is an insanely good test that will save millions of lives.

    DO THE MATH!!!

    You say that it detects 92% of cancers and 42% or pre-cancerous polyps but IGNORE the fact that it finds 66% of polyps >2. 42% is for >1 cm.

    If you took this test every 3 years as recommended and say had polyps >1 cm at the first test your chance of DETECTING pre-cancerous polyps is 42% if you have them. If Cologuard misses your >1 cm polyps, 58%, so what you are still years away from Stage I Colon cancer.

    Three years later you take the test and chances are your pre-cancerous polyps are now >2 cm and you have a 66% chance of finding them with Cologuard.

    So we have found 66% of the remaining 58% who have pre-cancerous polyps but were missed at >1 cm level.

    That leaves 22.44% who were missed. BUT it means 87.56% WERE found LONG before they had Stage I Colon Cancer.

    The third test 3 years later would find 78% of that 22.44% if still pre Stage I or 92% if Stage I.

    4.93% would still be missed at pre Stage I and three years later at assumed Stage I of that 4.93% 92% would be found.

    That leaves .88% not found at Stage I.

    Colonoscopys only are 94% accurate and far fewer people will use a Colonoscopy and surely not every 3 years.

    Do the math please this is an astounding test that could virtually eliminate death by Colon Cancer.

  2. Robert Miller says:
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    One more way of looking at it.

    A person has a chance of having Colon Cancer. It varies by age, exposure to radiation, chemicals, smoke etc. and family history but at any moment any person could have Colon Cancer.

    This person takes the Cologuard test. They either have NO cancer, high probability, Stage IV, III, II, I or precancerous polyps >3 cm, >2 cm or >1 cm.

    If they have Cancer at any stage Cologuard will find it 92%+ of the time. A Colonoscopy is 94% accurate and has problems that make it a risk which limits its use somewhat along with the yucky factor.