Colorectal cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, this being fundamentally due to the fact that it is asymptomatic at its initial stages. FOBT (Faecal Occult Blood Test), detecting blood hidden in the faeces, is the test which, aimed at early detection, has been generally used in recent years for those at risk (the over 50s, persons with a family history, and so on). Nevertheless, the test has met some rejection, the rate of volunteering for the test in preventive campaigns not reaching 62%. Moreover, 65% of those persons undergoing colonoscopy test falsely positive, a figure that drops dramatically to 2% with the new diagnostic method, if the preliminary results are confirmed.
According to the estimates of those in charge of the project, when this test, based on genetic markers, reaches the market, it could cost something like 150 euros. Those in charge of Public Health will then have a more costly method than the current FOBT, but with a much greater diagnostic reliability; this, in turn, will enable significant a posteriori savings, avoiding the carrying out of a large number of colonoscopies from falsely positive results.
Neither is colonoscopy very popular, given the physical inconvenience caused and with percentages of participation in the prevention campaigns for those at risk (less than 60%), it costs about 500 euros – an amount which prevents its massive incorporation as a measure for early detection.
Early detection is the key
The new test, for which a patent is being applied for, is a simple blood analysis, and so it is expected to help in detecting the illness at its earliest stages and thus to be determinant in reducing the death rate due to colorectal cancer.
The next aim of the project is to verify the data obtained to date on a population of 200 persons (50% healthy and 50% affected by colorectal cancer). If these are confirmed, the test is scaled up to 7,000 individuals, after which they can be transferred to the business infrastructure in order to guarantee that the results finally reach the public at large.
As regards Government bodies responsible for Public Health, once a good cost-effect ratio for the new method has been demonstrated, it can be incorporated as a complement to the FOBT, thus reducing the number of colonoscopies and enabling the cutting of costs of up to 60% of population colorectal cancer programmes for the early detection of the disease.
Ikerketa-zentroak, Medikuntza, Osasuna, Teknologia Go to top of page