With the incidence of colorectal cancer among US citizens under the age of 50 slowly on the rise, researchers have started to look for more decisive ways of creating a diagnostic. Fortunately, according to a research study, colon cancer is easily identifiable through stool samples.
This method, if proven completely viable, could dispose of techniques based on colonoscopies or normal cancer screenings through the use of biopsies. This is due to the fact that checking stool samples in order to discern if the patient has colon cancer is a much less invasive method in comparison to traditional ones.
The scientific name of the method is fecal immunochemical test and is basically the analysis of microscopic blood sheds hidden within stool samples. But the main problem when deciding this method’s viability stems from the fact that the cancerous polyps have to be of a detectable size in order for bloodshed to actually occur.
In order to see how this technique fares on a prolonged period, researchers analyzed stool samples from 350,000 Kaiser Permanente patients. During the first year, the accuracy of the test was marked at 84.5% of cases. This is due to the fact that colon cancer has a higher development rate during the first year, similar to breast and other cancers.
But the problem based on the decrease of accuracy on follow-up checks was somewhat dismissed because the test found cancer in 76% to 78% of diagnosed patients in tests conducted over a period of 2 to 4 years following an initial colorectal cancer diagnostic. Over the follow-up period of 10 years, results stood at this average level, but it portrayed hefty alteration depending on the size of the polyps.
The analysis of blood from stool samples does not dismiss the effectiveness of colonoscopies. Even if the latter method is much more invasive, it has an accuracy of 100% and has to be undergone only once every 10 years, while stool samples have to be submitted on a yearly basis. True, stool samples are extremely non-invasive in regards to obtaining them, but the slight inaccuracy of the test might make some patients opt for a colonoscopy instead.
Due to the fact that colon cancer is easily identifiable through stool samples, the research team urges doctors to include this test in normal colorectal cancer screenings as a viable option. Most people have adverse reactions when presented with colonoscopy as the only method of viable diagnostic analysis, in some cases even disregarding it completely.