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Friday, December 6, 2013
DNA Testing for Colon Cancer
I am interested in learning more about DNA testing for colon cancer. My understanding is that it’s less expensive. Does that mean someone without insurance could afford to pay for it out of pocket, like my brother (38) who doesn’t have insurance, but has a higher risk for colon cancer because our father died of colon cancer, and he has been smoking since he was 11. Is the test currently available to the public? Where can he go to get it done?
This is a really tough situation. The test, sold under the tradename ColoSure, is offered commercially through LabCorp. I believe the out of pocket cost is around $200.
The issues though are these: i) If the test is positive, the next step would be a colonoscopy, getting back into the insurance issue. ii) The test right now is able to pick up about 80% of colon cancers, but not yet 100%.
So for someone at special risk because of having a parent who had had colon cancer, a colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening (perhaps supplemented by the stool DNA test in in between years).
Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University