Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Test May Ease Colorectal Cancer Screening

Noninvasive Test May Encourage More Frequent Colorectal Cancer Screening

WebMD Health News

Dec. 22, 2004 -- A new, noninvasive screening test for colorectal cancer may encourage more people to get tested for the deadly and often silent disease.

New research shows that the experimental test, which screens for genetic mutations associated with colorectal cancer found in stool, is more effective at detecting cancers and precancerous growths than the only currently available noninvasive test, fecal occult blood stool testing (FOBT).

While neither of these noninvasive screening tests approaches the detection accuracy of a colonoscopy, researchers say the easy-to-administer test may offer a new alternative for colorectal cancer screening.

"A simple, noninvasive test that detects tumor-specific products with reasonable sensitivity and specificity might overcome barriers to screening among persons who are not willing to have a more invasive test, such as colonoscopy," says researcher Thomas Imperiale, MD, professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, in a news release.

Although colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among adults and recommendations exist that encourage screening for all adults over 50, researchers say less than 40% of people aged 50 years or older are screened for colorectal cancer.

"There are many reasons why people don't get screened for colon cancer," says Imperiale. "Some individuals do not want colonoscopy because of discomfort, despite conscious sedation, its inconvenience, or its risk for complications; others are unwilling to smear stool samples on a card for the occult blood test every year."

New Option in Colorectal Cancer Screening On the Way

In the study, which appears in the Dec. 23 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared the rates of fecal DNA testing with FOBT in detecting colorectal cancers or precancerous growths (polyps) in more than 2,500 men and women over age 50 considered to be at average risk for colorectal cancer.

Previous studies have shown the fecal DNA testing was effective at detecting cancers and precancerous growths in people at high risk for the disease, but researchers say this study is the first to test fecal DNA detection rates in large numbers of people at average risk.

The fecal DNA test screens for 21 different genetic mutations associated with colorectal cancer found in stool. It requires a single stool sample, which is expelled from the body directly into a container.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D