Epilepsy Talk

Kiss Colonoscopies Good-Bye? | September 11, 2011

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and more than half of over 80 million people over the age of 50 have never been screened.

But now there’s good news for everyone who dreads their mandatory colonoscopy. (Like me.)

It’s a new NONINVASIVE DNA colon cancer screening test that should be available to the general public in 20012!

David Ahlquist, M.D., Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and lead researcher on the study is the one to thank…

He and his research team have found that this new stool DNA test can detect 100 percent of both stomach and colorectal cancers and also the common cancers above the colon — including pancreas, stomach, biliary and esophageal cancers.

That’s ONE noninvasive test for multi-organ digestive cancer screening!

Here are some numbers that will turn your head…

Stool DNA testing detected cancers at each organ site, including 65 percent of esophageal cancers, 62 percent of pancreatic cancers, and 75 percent of bile duct and gallbladder cancers. And, there’s more good news: early-stage cancers were just as likely to be detected as late-stage cancers.

Better yet, it can be done at home and mailed in for analysis… and it requires no medication or diet restrictions. (So, no more procrastinating everyone!)

“It’s very exciting to see this level of sensitivity for digestive cancer detection in our first look at this test application,” says Dr. Ahlquist, “Historically, we’ve approached cancer screening one organ at a time. Stool DNA testing could shift the strategy of cancer screening to multi-organ, whole-patient testing and could also open the door to early detection of cancers above the colon which are currently not screened. The potential impact of this evolution could be enormous.”

Before this scientific breakthrough, colonoscopy alternatives included:

1. Fecal Occult Blood Test which checks for hidden blood in the stool. Studies have shown that this test, when performed every 1 to 2 years in people ages 50 to 80, can help reduce the number of deaths due to colorectal cancer by 15 to 33 percent.

2. Sigmoidoscopy, examining the rectum and lower colon using a lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope. During sigmoidoscopy, precancerous and cancerous growths in the rectum and lower colon can be found and either removed or biopsied. Studies suggest that regular screening with sigmoidoscopy after age 50 can help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.  A thorough cleansing of the lower colon is necessary for this test.

3. Virtual Colonoscopy which uses special x-ray equipment to produce pictures of the colon and rectum. A computer then assembles these pictures into detailed images that can show polyps and other abnormalities. Because it is less invasive than standard colonoscopy and sedation is not needed, virtual colonoscopy may cause less discomfort and take less time to perform.

However, here’s the down side. Like the colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, the same odious procedure of  a thorough colon cleansing is necessary prior to the test.  And the deal breaker is that it’s still unknown whether the virtual colonoscopy can reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer. (I’d say it’s a lose-lose.)

4. Double Contrast Barium Enema which requires enduring an enema with a barium solution followed by air being introduced into the colon. In this tortuous test, a series of x-rays of the entire colon and rectum are taken to outline the colon and rectum. Not only is it painful and medieval, research shows that the barium enema detects only 30 to 50 percent of the cancers versus the standard colonoscopy. Believe me, you don’t want to go here. (As a young girl, I was subjected to this barbaric process twice a year for 10 years. It was ghastly.)

5. Digital rectal exam, you know, the standard test of the old finger up the rectum which is part of your routine physical.

So there’s reason to rejoice.

As Steven Itzkowitz, M.D., principal investigator and Professor and Associate Director of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine said: “For those individuals who are unwilling or unable to undergo colonoscopy, stool DNA testing offers a valuable and patient-friendly screening option. These results also underscore that as new markers and technologies are developed and validated, they can readily be incorporated into existing stool DNA tests to improve cancer detection and, ultimately, patient outcome.”







Bottom Line Publishing Daily Health News dailyhealthnews@news.bottomlinepublishing.com


  1. Good Morning Phylis, I know I’ve procrastinated for 10 yrs. When suggested by a previous Doc, I said No Thanks. Maybe next yr my DR will offer me this solution/exam. I’ll probably have to Ask for it. I can’t even remember any DR doing Digital Rectal, except maybe once. 🙂

    Thanks for the Article/news. 🙂 Now, I’m looking forward to that exam. 🙂

    Love Candi


    Comment by candi — September 12, 2011 @ 6:28 PM

  2. I have to admit, I’ve been in bed for the last 2 days with searing colitis. Yesterday, I couldn’t even use my laptop in bed because I couldn’t sit up.

    Today’s a little better. And unfortunately, colon cancer gallops through the maternal side of the family. (Maybe I’ll at least these genes from my father?)

    But the prep is such a killer that I keep on putting it off, even though I’m supposed to have one every other year.

    It’s a real dilemma. I’m hoping, wishing, praying this diagnostic alternative comes through. AND THAT IT’S COVERED BY INSURANCE!!!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 13, 2011 @ 1:04 PM

  3. Phylis,

    I swear my GP is such a Dork! Yesterday, I asked if he had read about this stool test. Forgot to add the DNA part. But, mentioned it wouldn’t be available till 2012. He said “Drs have been doing this test for YRS. It only detects, sometimes, colon cancer. ” “And is Very Expensive, so, likely to be disapproved of by Insurance.” 😦

    That makes no Sense, when you Consider the DR visit, Cleansing med, anesthetic used, another DR visit & then the tech & equipment & techs to read results. 😦

    Love Candi


    Comment by candi — September 14, 2011 @ 4:51 PM

    • Wait a minute. He said it wouldn’t be available till 2011 but docs have been using it for years?

      What am I missing here???


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 14, 2011 @ 8:03 PM

  4. That’s what I said! :0 😉 🙂 I said it wouldn’t be available. 🙂

    What am I missing is what I thought. 😉 There are No Docs in this Town. Only QUACKS! I Swear! Another case of “I know More than You!” Baloney! Old school Docs who Don’t do ‘homework’.’ 😦

    BTW: My Advair &/or Pheno’s are Not responsible for my Borderline Osteoporosis. His Opinion. I wanted him to Admit the ‘possibility’. His answer “Advair: not enough steroids to make a difference. ” (Yet bone loss is a Side EFFECT!) “Phenobarbitals: “It’s Very Rare. Smokin & AGE are the Real Problem”. Again, bone loss is a very Real problem/possibility. But, he swore only Dilantin caused any Real Problems. So, My Meds have got nothing to do w/ it. As far as he is concerned, I am not a ‘Rare’ Case. 😦 My gut says Different! And my Gut ain’t been wrong, yet, regarding my disorders! 😦

    Disgusted in Bullhead City. 😦

    Love Candi


    Comment by candi — September 15, 2011 @ 2:18 PM

  5. Yes,. I plan on making an appt/consultation. Soon. Cuz, I need new/follow-up tests done in 6 mths. It just means running all over town for tests. 😦 And meeting another Ignoramus. 😦 My GF has seen him twice & likes him. An Older man w/ homeopathic tendencies. HEHE Not so Funny, but, Hubby says Doc called & told him Blood tests showed he was borderline diabetic. 😦 DR did ask about his drinking habits & I was there to confirm, but, we forgot to mention the previous nite was one of Hubby’s ‘party nites’. 🙂 Well, when Hubby told Me, just now, my first thought was ‘You were on a Drinking binge the nite B4’. Enough to raise sugar levels Big Time. Maybe I should be the Doc? 🙂 What do you think? 🙂


    Comment by candi — September 16, 2011 @ 2:51 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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