Despite recommendations, many Americans in the target age group are not getting screened for colorectal cancer.
However, a new blood-based screening test may help boost those rates because of its simplicity and convenience for the patient.
The downside is that the new test is not as sensitive or accurate as a colonoscopy or the other recommended screening approaches.
Approved in April 2016, the Epi proColon (Epigenomics AG) is the first blood-based colorectal screening test to get a thumbs-up from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This molecular test detects methylated Septin 9 DNA in plasma, which is increased in colorectal cancer and can be found in tumor DNA that has been shed into the bloodstream from both colon and rectal sites. This makes it a differential biomarker for the early detection of colorectal cancer, according to the manufacturer.
Available in Europe since 2012, it is also being marketed in other countries, including China.
The question now facing healthcare providers is, Where does this new test fit in the current armamentarium of screening options?
"It's the new kid on the block, another alternative, and one that isn't as highly recommended as the current options that are available," said Andrew Chan, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The major advantage of the Epi proColon is that because it is fast, easy, and noninvasive, it may appeal to individuals who have shunned other screening approaches.