Colorectal Cancer Screening: Blood Test Gains FDA Approval
People who aren’t at an especially high risk for the development of colorectal cancers may soon find a new blood test offered to them for screening. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new blood-based screening test for colorectal cancer. Already in use in Europe and elsewhere, the test detects methylated Septin9 DNA, which has been linked to this form of cancer.
Although not intended to completely replace other screening exams, the blood test offers a way for healthcare professionals to screen those who are reluctant to undergo other procedures. The colonoscopy, for example, is considered the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening, but its invasive nature can make gaining compliance difficult. The new blood test is meant to provide a less invasive way to gauge if CRC is a potential concern. It is recommended, however, only for those of average risk for developing this form of cancer.
Colorectal cancer is a blanket term used to describe both colon and rectal cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates there are 96,000 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Just under 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer are diagnosed. Nearly 50,000 Americans die from colorectal cancers each year.
Since both men and women are at risk for the development of colorectal cancer, it is advised that early screening become a part of the routine starting around the age of 50. People who are at higher risk may find screening begins much younger. Early detection is considered key in helping doctors successfully combat this disease.
While the new blood test might not be right for everyone, it can help people concerned about colorectal cancer keep a watch out for this disease without necessarily requiring them to undergo more invasive procedures. Since this form of cancer is a risk for everyone, it is best to speak with a healthcare provider about recommended screenings. People who are at higher risk may find the blood test is not the best option for them.