Colorectal cancer detection tests are improving. Early research suggests a new blood test may be able to detect between 85-92 percent of colorectal cancers and between 42-66 percent of polyps depending on their size. The new test is designed to pinpoint genetic markers commonly found when cancer cells are present.
Traditional tests that are designed to detect blood found in a stool sample, such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), have an accuracy of less than 80 percent.
While diagnostic advancements such as the new genetic blood test help doctors intervene earlier on the patient’s behalf, we still need to see more research and data. As it stands now, the colonoscopy remains the appropriate tool to screen for colorectal cancer.
The colonoscopy procedure is able to detect polyps and remove them before they become cancerous, or when growths are in any early stage. Unfortunately, many people avoid this procedure out of fear of pain and discomfort. Currently, only 52-54 percent of individuals who should have this procedure are scheduling time for it.
The importance of the colonoscopy today cannot be understated. While the procedure may be slightly uncomfortable, a colonoscopy is currently the appropriate way to detect colon cancer. And, the earlier we are able to detect and treat it, the greater the chance of a favorable outcome.
The fecal and/or blood tests, when available, should be used between the standard recommended screening periods. Fortunately, statistics are showing that the mortality rate of colon cancer is slowly declining. This is partly due to increased awareness about the disease, and more people following the recommended screening guidelines.
Learn more about the symptoms of colorectal cancer.