Saturday, October 09, 2010

Stool-Based Colon Cancer Tests Vary Widely in Accuracy

(HealthDay News) -- Newer versions of the stool-based colon cancer tests -- recommended annually for Americans over 50 -- vary widely in their ability to spot potential abnormalities, a German study finds.

Doctors at 20 gastroenterology practices in Germany used the tests for what is called fecal occult blood -- otherwise undetectable traces of blood that could come from a cancer or polyp in the intestine -- on more than 1,300 people and checked those results against findings from colonoscopy and an X-ray examination of the colon.

The study focused on the two types of tests for fecal occult blood, each of which uses a small stool sample placed on a card. The older test uses a chemical called guaiac, which can detect the "heme" part of the hemoglobin molecule in blood. However, the accuracy of the guaiac test can be compromised by the patient's diet -- for example, the recent consumption of red meat or even vitamin C supplements. Read more...

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