Colon cancer blood test more economical

July 31, 2010 at 10:40 PM
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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., July 31 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers advise using highly sensitive fecal occult blood tests to economically screen for colon cancer.

Researchers at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., say the colonoscopy is the most accurate method for detecting colorectal cancers early. However, the fecal occult blood tests may offer a more efficient use of limited budgets.

The study, published in Health Affairs, uses computer modeling to compare scenarios and concludes under fixed budget conditions, the fecal occult blood test provides the most benefit.

"Under the majority of the scenarios analyzed in this paper, the use of high-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood tests will result in more individuals receiving colorectal cancer screening than with colonoscopy and thus will result in a higher number of life-years gained than screening fewer individuals with colonoscopy," study lead author Sujha Subramanian, a senior health economist at RTI, said in a statement.

However, Subramanian and colleagues suggest colonoscopy screening may be the optimal choice in some circumstances. For instance, if it is anticipated there will be very low compliance with diagnostic follow-up or when repeated annual testing is not feasible, choosing a colonoscopy would be preferable.

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