Cologuard stool test excels in Alaska study

Dr. David Ahlquist

A stool DNA test for colorectal cancer was found to be an accurate noninvasive screening option for Alaska Native people, a population with one of world's highest rates of colorectal cancer, according to a new study by researchers from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Mayo Clinic.

The test, called Cologuard, is made by Exact Sciences Corp. of Madison in partnership with Mayo Clinic, which has a financial interest in the company.

Dr. Robert Diasio, director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Centern, said colorectal cancer should be preventable with effective screening, but many Americans avoid it because some tests are invasive.

"The stool DNA test represents an accurate, patient-friendly and readily accessible new option that we hope will lead to improved screening participation rates in Alaska and across the country," Diasio said.

The remote residence of many Alaska Native people in sparsely distributed communities across vast roadless regions creates a barrier to screening with conventional tools, such as a colonoscopy, according to a press release from Mayo.


"Stool DNA detects colorectal cancer and highest risk precancerous polyps with high accuracy, and its application within a screening program could translate into more effective prevention and control of the leading cancer among Alaska Native people," says Dr. David Ahlquist of Mayo Clinic, a study author and co-inventor of the stool DNA test.

The research was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings and funded by a competitive grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

The Cologuard DNA test has been approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and FDA.

Exact Sciences is expected to need a production facility to produce the kits, and Rochester may be in the running for it. — Post-Bulletin staff

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