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Promising Alternative To A Colonoscopy

(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There is no doubt that colonoscopy screening is the best tool we have to fight colon cancer and to save lives.

The true value of the colonoscopy is that it detects colon cancer early by identifying polyps before they grow into dangerous tumors. But some people just refuse to get a colonoscopy no matter how many times they are asked.

Detecting colon cancer – without a colonoscopy – is a sort of Holy Grail in healthcare and companies are working very hard to find a test.

Recently there was news of an experimental test that works by detecting the presence of certain strands of dna in patients’ stool samples. Researchers used the test on nearly 10,000 patients who were going in for a colonoscopy, comparing it to another currently available stool test. What they found was that the new test detected 92.3% of the colorectal cancers that were detected by colonoscopy.

The report in The New England Journal of Medicine may not be the answer, but there is no doubt that a tool like this could help.

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