(WZZM) - A colonoscopy is the best way for doctors to detect colon cancer, but many people avoid the procedure. Now a new, non invasive test could change that.
The test is called Cologuard and it's designed to look for DNA in a patient's stool. Colon polyps and cancer shed DNA that ends up in your stool.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic helped develop the test. They say, in the lab, technicians look at the DNA and distinguish mutated genes from normal genes.
An increased amount of mutated genes indicates the presence of cancer or precancer. Doctors with the Mayo Clinic say this new test has results that are nearly as accurate as a colonoscopy.
"If one compares the results that we saw with Cologuard, for example the 94 percent detection rate for the earliest stage cancers, that would compare very well with the reported detection rates for colonoscopy, which are in the 92 percent to 96 percent range based on the most recent follow up studies," said Dr. David Ahlquist, a Mayo Clinic Gastroenterologist.
Colon cancer screenings are recommended for adults age 50 and older, but around half have not had a screening. Doctors hope this new option will encourage patients, especially since it does not require any prep work like a colonoscopy.
"It's a simple test for the patient to do," said Dr. Ahlquist. "There's no prep, it can be done from home and simply mailed in to the laboratory."
Cologuard will not replace a colonoscopy. If the test detects precancer or cancer, doctors would perform a diagnostic colonoscopy. The F-D-A still has to approve the test.