Study Reveals Promising Accuracy of Blood Test in Detecting Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer: Study Reveals Promising Accuracy of Blood Test in Detection | Healthcare 360 Magazine


A groundbreaking clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has unveiled promising results regarding a blood test designed to detect colorectal cancer, offering a potential breakthrough in screening methods for this life-threatening disease.

Effective Detection Rate

The study, spearheaded by Dr. William M. Grady, a gastroenterologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, demonstrated that the blood test accurately identified colorectal cancer in 83% of individuals who were confirmed to have the disease and were at average risk without experiencing symptoms. However, it did yield false positives in 10% of cases, erroneously suggesting the presence of colon cancer where none existed upon colonoscopy examination.

Optimism for Improved Screening

Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News chief medical correspondent and a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health, expressed optimism about the potential of the blood test to revolutionize colorectal cancer screening. He highlighted its attractiveness due to its simplicity and lack of discomfort associated with traditional screening methods, such as stool tests. However, LaPook emphasized the need for further research to determine the test’s effectiveness, particularly in identifying early-stage cancers.

Although the blood test has yet to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is already available for purchase in the United States at a cost of $895. Guardant Health, the manufacturer of the test, anticipates a decision from the FDA later this year, which could pave the way for broader accessibility and insurance coverage.

Colon cancer blood test shows promise

Clinical Trial Details

Conducted as a multisite clinical trial involving nearly 8,000 participants aged 45 to 84, the study compared Guardant Health’s Shield blood test to colonoscopy, the current gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. While colonoscopy remains the preferred method due to its effectiveness in detecting early-stage cancers and precancerous polyps, the blood test offers a less invasive alternative.

Despite the availability of effective screening methods, colorectal cancer remains a significant public health concern. Dr. Grady underscored the importance of offering diverse screening options to encourage more individuals to undergo screening, thereby reducing the incidence and mortality rates associated with colorectal cancer.

Rising Colorectal Cancer Cases Rates

The study coincides with a concerning trend of increasing colorectal cancer cases among Americans, particularly at younger ages. Once considered the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in individuals under 50, colorectal cancer has ascended the ranks, now ranking as the leading cause for men and the second-leading cause for women in this age group.

As colorectal cancer continues to pose a considerable threat to public health, advancements in screening technology offer hope for early detection and improved outcomes. With further research and regulatory approval, the blood test showcased in this study could potentially enhance colorectal cancer screening efforts, saving lives and reducing the burden of this prevalent disease in the United States.

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