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New Tests Aid Early Cancer Detection

March 7, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Minnesotans will have more choices in getting screened for colon cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the state. Guidelines provide two new options for treatment, in an effort to reach more health care consumers.

Several health groups have expanded their guidelines on testing for colorectal cancer. Matt Flory with the American Cancer Society in Minnesota says the move is designed to encourage more people to get check-ups.

"We've added two new tests to the list of recommended screenings: stool DNA tests and CT colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy. This will expand the options for people over 50 to get screened for colon cancer."

He says the new tests increase the options for health consumers and will improve the chances of early detection and treatment. He notes some of the tests are less invasive than others. The hope is that people will opt for a less-invasive test rather than none at all.

Flory says the new options should bring more people to the doctor to be tested.

"In Minnesota, one in three people who should be getting screened for colon cancer is not getting the recommended tests. Among the uninsured, more than two in three Minnesotans are not getting any tests. This is critically important; when you’re over 50, get tested for cancer. There are lots of options, whether you’re insured or uninsured."

If diagnosed early, Flory says, colon cancer is highly treatable, with a survival rate of more than 90 percent. But fewer than half of such cancers are detected at an early state.

Flory says the additional choices will help consumers make decisions that can save their lives, because they increase the chances they'll be screened.

"The overall goal of these recommendations is to provide patients with information to make informed decisions about the most effective colon cancer tests for them. We give options about which tests are most likely to prevent, as well as detect, colon cancer, but still provide options for patients who may be interested in less-invasive tests or may not be insured."

ACS has a 24 hour help line at 800-227-2345. The report is available online at
www.cancer.org.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN