Innovative colon cancer test works without colonoscopy

By Maggie Fox, Reuters

WASHINGTON–A new kind of test that finds evidence of colon cancer in the stool can also detect pre-cancerous growths, and could potentially be an alternative to colonoscopies, researchers reported on Thursday. Exact Sciences’ new test detected 87 percent of stage I, II and III colon tumors, which can be surgically removed, and found 64 percent of the biggest pre-cancerous growths, the researchers told a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. It finds altered DNA that has either turned a cell cancerous, or has started changes that lead to cancer. “The noninvasive stool DNA test we have developed is simple for patients, involves no diet or medication restriction, no unpleasant bowel preparation, and no lost work time, as it can be done from home,” said Dr. David Ahlquist of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who developed the test. “Positive tests results would be followed up with colonoscopy.”