As every year, March is officially “Colon Cancer Awareness Month”. A great opportunity to highlight the importance of screening. Nowadays, modern tests have made the early detection of colon cancer much easier.
All over the world, 1.4 million people are newly diagnosed with colon cancer every year. In Germany alone, there are more than 60,000 cases every year – and more than 25,000 deaths. Colon cancer is the most preventable form of cancer. Through early detection, almost all colorectal cancers can be prevented or cured. The aim of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, which was officially launched in 2000 by then US President Clinton, is to raise awareness of this. Since then, every March the Colon Cancer Alliance has organized numerous of campaigns to highlight the importance of colon cancer screening.
Colon cancer usually develops very slowly. The disease usually starts off as benign polyps. If these polyps are detected at an early stage, they can be removed before they become cancerous. The most reliable method for early detection of these polyps is a colonoscopy. However, many people are reluctant to take this test. A less complex alternative, which is often more pleasant for patients, are stool tests which are used to detect hidden (occult) blood in the stool. However, the problem is lower sensitivity and specificity, particularly when it comes to the older chemical stool tests (guaiac test).
Newer quantitative immunological stool tests which detect hemoglobin are significantly more informative with regard to sensitivity and specificity. Several current guidelines for colon cancer screening therefore suggest replacing the guaiac test with more modern methods. The American Cancer Society therefore advocates the use of either a new version of the guaiac test, an immunological stool test, or a stool-based DNA test. According to a new directive, only immunological hemoglobin-detecting stool tests are to be used in Germany may be used as of January 1, 2017.
The two tests, RIDASCREEN® Haemoglobin and RIDASCREEN® Haemo-/Haptoglobin Complex, reliably detect even the smallest amounts of occult blood, with no false positive or false negative results due to nutritional components. No prior dietary restrictions are required. This represents an important step towards improved colon cancer screening. The hope is that in future, more people will utilize screening, and cases of colon cancer can be reduced over the long term.