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New colon cancer home test might save lives

A colon cancer rapid home test was approved by the FDA in August 2014, and it is available in Minnesota. Colorectal cancer is the 2nd-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and the new method created in Wisconsin has the potential to impact that death number.

Over the years, there has been controversy surrounding the risks of colonoscopies. Cologuard gives patients a less costly screening alternative that is also non-invasive. Doctor John Kisiel, gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, says he’s excited to offer the test to patients.

 

Screening without symptoms

“Getting screened without symptoms is of paramount importance because typically, when symptoms develop, they herald a late stage or advanced cancer that may be late stage or difficult to treat,” Kisiel said.

Cologuard is the first of its kind home rapid test. Since Monday, doctors like Kisiel will be able to prescribe the test to patients fifty and older.

“It’s highly accurate and highly sensitive for early stage curable cancers and the highest risk pre-cancers,” he said.

Promising detection rates

Unlike other stool tests, Cologuard looks for blood that could suggest a tumor and even detects DNA that could be a sign of cancer. Clinical pre trials suggest Cologuard detects ninty-two percent of cancer and polyps in the colon, and sixty-nine percent of high risk pre-cancers.

How it works

The test is shipped to a people’s home and he or she simply mounts the test on the toilet seat, handles their business, follows a few easy instructions and sends a sample to a lab.

After 2 weeks, patients learn their results. If positive, they’ll be encouraged to schedule a diagnostic colonoscopy for a closer, yet invasive and more expensive look. Cologuard, however, isn’t foolproof. By design about ten percent of the test results will be a false positive,” Kisiel said.

But don’t let the chance of a false alarm flush your perspective. Cologuard could ultimately prevent most of the people who don’t need a colonoscopy from having to go through the procedure in the first place. Colonoscopies range anywhere from $700 to $4,000. Cologuard costs $500. Medicare reimburses more than $500 of that fee to its beneficiaries. Private insurers do not cover the home test at this time.