Colon Cancer Screening


Anchor lead: Can a mailed in screening test for colon cancer work? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Sending people colon cancer screening kits where they can simply send in a fecal sample they collect themselves at home is cost effective and acceptable, a new study finds. The test relies on the presence of either blood in the stool or cancer DNA, and may also increase the number of people who are willing to be screened. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Nelson: I think what we’ve learned is if you have this kind of a test in a serial manner you get it year after year after year, if you have three or more consecutive tests for blood or for cancer DNA, you’re probably in pretty good shape. I think there’s going to be more work on exactly which test to use when and the most cost effective and effective way, but the bottom line at this point is we’re talking about two approaches that have a great deal of effectiveness.   :27

Nelson says if the screening test identifies a problem, colonoscopy to further evaluate and possibly treat is indicated. He notes that colon cancer rates among those younger than 50 have been increasing, and urges people to ask their primary care physician about screening. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.