Not enough evidence to recommend fecal DNA testing for adults at average risk for colorectal cancer
Research Activities, April 2012
While some clinical recommendations include fecal DNA testing as a screening method for colorectal cancer, there is insufficient evidence that the currently available fecal DNA test can be used to accurately screen adults at average risk who show no symptoms of colorectal cancer, according to a new research review from the Effective Health Care Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Among other risk factors, being over the age of 50, having a family history of the disease, and eating a diet high in red meat are linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer. There are multiple tests to screen for colorectal cancer, including colonoscopies and computerized tomographic scans. Most U.S. health organizations recommend that individuals should begin regular screening at age 50.Still, many people are not regularly screened for the cancer.
The review, Fecal DNA Testing in Screening for Colorectal Cancer in Average Risk Adults, calls for further research about the accuracy of fecal DNA testing, especially given recent scientific advances in this area. Studies comparing the acceptability and adherence to fecal DNA testing versus other stool-based screening tests are also needed.
To access this review and other AHRQ products, visit http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.