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Colorectal Cancer Blood Test Approval on Horizon

The first blood test capable of detecting colorectal cancer could be approved this year, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “[N]ew research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine … found that a blood test called Shield from California-based Guardant Health was, overall, 83% effective in finding colorectal cancers.”

  • The test—which works by detecting tumor DNA—would not replace colonoscopies as the definitive determination of whether a person has colorectal cancer, but it “could boost the dismal rate of colorectal screenings with a less invasive and perhaps more palatable way to detect” cancers.

Why it’s important: “Colon cancer screening is generally recommended starting at age 45, but less than 60% of people who are eligible are up to date.”

  • Colonoscopies are time consuming, unpleasant and inconvenient, necessitating anesthesia and, often, time off work.
  • “The blood-based test doesn’t have any of those issues,” the gastroenterologist who led the new research told CNBC.

However … The test was less effective at detecting early-stage colorectal cancer, “when it’s most treatable.”

What’s next: The Food and Drug Administration is expected to consider the test for approval this year.

  • If approved, it would be administered every three years starting at age 45. Those with family histories or symptoms of colorectal cancer would still require colonoscopies.
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