WEDNESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- An immunochemical test used to detect signs of colorectal cancer is less accurate when done in the summer than in cooler times of the year, Italian researchers report.
Although the particular brand of test used in the study -- the OC-Hemodia test -- is not used in the United States, the findings are of interest to U.S. researchers because immunochemical fecal occult blood tests are gradually replacing the conventional stool test for colorectal cancer, according to the report published in the July 6 online edition of Gut.
Cancers of the colon or rectum generally have a good prognosis when caught early, and the most common, non-invasive way to detect it is a procedure known as the fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, which looks for blood hidden in the stool.
In Italy -- unlike the United States -- the conventional procedure is an immunochemical fecal occult blood test. In this study, researchers noted that blood samples, if present, appeared less stable at higher temperatures -- something that may have implications for similar U.S.-based tests.
However, the study has important limitations in terms of the U.S. population, one expert noted.
Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate and colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society, said that the Italian researchers "looked at only one test, [and] there are a number these tests on the market."
Moreover, the OC-Hemodia test is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is thus not available in the United States, he added.
Brooks also noted that most immunochemical fecal occult blood tests used in the United States require several samples, as opposed to the single sample of the OC-Hemodia test. Therefore, having several samples tested may lessen the problem of inaccurate results, if they exist, he said.
"So how relevant this is to other imm
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