Stool tests gain popularity

When given a choice, most individuals with an average risk of colorectal cancer said they would prefer a stool-based screening test for colorectal cancer over colonoscopy. That’s according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Xuan Zhu, PhD, an analyst at the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, found the following in a survey of more than 1,000 patients:

  • 66 percent of respondents said they preferred mt-sDNA over colonoscopy
  • 61 percent said they preferred FIT/FOBT over colonoscopy
  • 67 percent indicated a preference for mt-sDNA over FIT/FOBT

The findings illustrate the importance of highlighting the colorectal cancer screening options available to people at average risk. 

"Previous research has shown that fewer patients complete colorectal cancer screening when only colonoscopy is recommended compared to when stool-based options are also recommended," Zhu said in a press release. "The best colorectal cancer screening test is the one that patients are most likely to complete.”

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance recently launched a quiz that provides users with personalized testing recommendations based on risk, including FIT, stool-DNA, and colonoscopy. Users receive follow-up messages to ensure they have the resources and encouragement needed to get tested.

“We’ve been seeing and hearing that having options is really helping drive average risk folks to get screened,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

The urgency to communicate colorectal cancer screening options has never been higher. In the first two months of the pandemic, screenings slipped nearly 90%. Presently, screening rates lag behind previous years by about 15%.

As a result, researchers are predicting thousands of additional deaths from colorectal cancer over the next decade from delayed diagnoses and treatment due to the pandemic. 


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