Novel Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Gaining Traction in Health Plans

Novel Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Gaining Traction in Health Plans

CologuardThe molecular diagnostics company Exact Sciences Corporation announced that their non-profit cooperative, health plan Group Health Cooperative, is going to become the first in Wisconsin to provide access to a noninvasive stool DNA screening test for colorectal cancer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Cologuard. The test will be offered to patients within Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC-SCW) laboratory benefits, if recommended by primary care physicians.

Cologuard is able to analyze both stool-based DNA and blood biomarkers to detect cancer and pre-cancer and was designed for patients, especially for those older than 50 who are identified as at risk of developing colorectal cancer. It consists of a screening test that can be performed at a patient’s home, and studies have demonstrated it is able to identify colorectal cancer in 92 percent of average-risk patients with 87 percent accuracy. Prior medication, dietary restrictions, or bowel preparations prior to the test are not a factor, like other screening tests.

“At Group Health Cooperative, we take pride in offering the most advanced cancer detection technology available,” said the chief executive officer of Group Health Cooperative, Kevin Hayden. “With colorectal cancer in particular, a high level of non-compliance with existing screening options has hampered our ability to identify the disease in its early stages when it is most treatable. As an accurate and patient-friendly screening option, Cologuard represents a significant advance in the fight against colorectal cancer. Making Cologuard available will hopefully encourage patients to get regular screenings and, in turn, improve survival rates for this preventable cancer.”

Developed in partnership with Exact Sciences Corp and the Mayo Clinic, the Cologuard technology is able to detect DNA alterations and blood released from cancer and precancerous colon lesions. When ordered by a physician, the test is sent to the patient’s home for him or her to collect a stool sample using the Cologuard Collection Kit and send it back to the Exact Sciences lab for examination.

“Exact Sciences is proud to be a Wisconsin-based company, making it especially fitting that one of the first health plans and clinics in the country to offer and cover Cologuard be in our own backyard,” stated the president, CEO and chairman of Exact Sciences Corp, Kevin Conroy. “We look forward to working with Group Health Cooperative to give patients in Wisconsin access to this important new cancer screening technology.”

Even though colorectal cancer can be prevented with screening, twenty-three million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 years old are not being examined, which is recommended. This is one of the reasons why the disease remains the second-deadliest cancer in the United States.

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