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New Stool Test for Colon Cancer Shows Promise

DNA analysis boosts accuracy rate to more than 90 percent, researchers say

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"It's not a perfect test," Itzkowitz acknowledged. "But neither is a colonoscopy. Also, I don't think we're saying that this test should be done as a replacement for a colonoscopy, but rather as an adjunct. Certainly if a person who does this test comes out with a positive reading then they will need to do a colonoscopy afterwards to confirm it."

Dr. Frank Sinicrope, a professor of medicine and oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said "these data demonstrate the superiority of stool DNA testing compared to FIT for colorectal cancer screening."

Sinicrope, who was not part of the study team, also suggested that the Cologuard method might offer some advantages over standard colonoscopies.

In particular, he pointed to the DNA test's success in identifying certain advanced-stage polyps, noting such precancerous growths are typically flat and "located in the right side of the colon and are difficult to detect at colonoscopy."

Nevertheless, Sinicrope said there are still "important issues that await further research." Those would include determining how best to deal with false positive results and establishing how often patients should take the DNA test to maximize its screening potential.

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