FDA Panel Approves Safety of Guardant Blood Test for Colon Cancer – Generic English

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The biggest problem with blood tests is that, unlike colonoscopies, they don’t detect most precancerous growths on the colon that, if detected and removed, would prevent a person from developing cancer. This, said Dr. Stephen M. Hewitt, a member of the National Cancer Institute board, “really undermines the concept of cancer prevention.”

The test, said Charity J. Morgan, a committee member and professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “is better than nothing for patients who get nothing, but it’s no better than a colonoscopy.”

And there are many people who get nothing.

The FDA noted that one-third of people who should be screened for colorectal cancer are not being screened, and more than 75 percent of those who died were not up-to-date with screening.

If the agency approves the Guardant Health test, the hope is that it could dramatically change the discouraging colon cancer statistics by offering average-risk patients who refuse colonoscopy a convenient option to get screened.

Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that can actually be prevented with screening. This is because the disease begins slowly as a polyp, a small, harmless growth on the wall of the colon. Most polyps never cause any problems, but some eventually turn into cancer. If they are detected and eliminated, cancer is avoided.

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