Another benefit is that it would probably need to be done once every three years, while the fecal occult blood test is usually done yearly. Savings over time on a more accurate test done fewer times could justify the higher cost of the Cologuard test, Ahlquist said.
In two other presentations at the meeting, researchers have linked key gene variants to the risk for colon cancer and also to the prognosis of the disease.
In one study, researchers found that people who have long telomeres, the small strips of DNA that cover the ends of chromosomes, have a 30 percent increased risk of developing colon cancer.
"Even for people their age, their telomeres were longer than you'd expect for healthy people," lead researcher Dr. Lisa A. Boardman, an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, said in a statement. "This suggests that there may be two different mechanisms that affect telomere length and that set up susceptibility to cancer," she said.
In the other study, a research team led by Kim M. Smits, a molecular biologist and epidemiologist in the GROW-School for Oncology and Developmental Biology at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, uncovered a surprise when it came to a gene variant on the KRAS gene called the G variant. This variant, long linked to poorer outcomes in advanced colorectal cancer, actually predicted a better prognosis in early-stage colon cancer.
"You would intuitively think that the G variant would be associated with a poorer prognosis, as it is in late-stage colorectal cancer, but that is not the case," Smits said in a statement.
Experts point out that studies presented at scientific meetings do not have to pass the rigorous peer review
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