Colon cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. Still, nearly 60,000 people in America die each year from the disease. Early diagnosis is a key factor in surviving colon cancer; however, testing has been a huge problem. Now, a new generation of tests is helping to save lives.
Randy Hale is a lucky man. Unlike so many Americans who have died from colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., Randy survived. He owes his life to early detection.
"My doctor gave me the screening test to take home," he said, "and it ultimately saved my life."
Randy took a new generation test that eliminates the need for fecal handling. It's an immunochemical-based test called Insure, which is patient friendly and easy to use.
"The major problem with the older test," explained Dr. Eugene O'Neill, "is that patients found it really unpleasant to have to handle their stool multiple times. They either didn't follow directions accurately or refused to take it altogether."
With the new test, patients use a special long-handled brush that comes with the kit to collect the toilet water sample.
"The doctor gave me this little packet to take home and had the clear instructions," Hale said. "It was easy to do. I didn't really have to touch anything. I just sealed it up and mailed it off to the laboratory."
The results of the test indicated bleeding from the colon, and in fact, a cancerous polyp was found; however, because the cancer was at a very early stage, it was removed with no chemotherapy or radiation required.
"The best test for screening is a test that is used and used properly," said Dr. O'Neill. In fact, a study indicates that patient compliance rose 66% with Insure. "People don't mind getting screened for prostate or breast cancer," explained Dr. O'Neill, "but getting them screened for colon cancer has been an enormous challenge. Now it doesn't have to be."