ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Mayo Clinic researchers are leading a nationwide clinical trial on a new way to detect colon cancer, according to the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. The test, which requires only a stool sample, detects DNA that is shed from precancerous colon polyps and early-stage colon cancer.
In a clinical pilot study, Mayo Clinic researchers found that the test detected 91 percent of the cancers through the colon and 73 percent of the polyps, with no false-positives. That contrasts with false-positives of 5 percent to 10 percent from current colon and rectal cancer screening tests that check for blood in the stool. A false-positive generally leads to unnecessary colonoscopy.
If the clinical trial backs up the initial findings, the DNA tests could be widely available in two to three years. Mayo Clinic doctors say the DNA colon cancer test would likely result in earlier detection and could save thousands of lives each year.