March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month across the globe, and in South Africa colon cancer is recognised as one of the top five most prevalent cancers in the country. CEO of UDoTest™, Allison Martin, explains how their simple, clinically-proven and non-invasive Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), called the UDoColonTest™, is making great inroads in the diagnosis of the disease.
Colon cancer is a hidden affliction usually without symptoms. Starting off as small, noncancerous clumps of cells called polyps, this silent sometimes fatal disease may become cancerous when dangerous polyps are not identified and removed.
According to the most recent available statistics in the National Cancer Registry South Africa, it’s estimated that 1 in 85 men and 1 in 144 women could develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. According to recent statistics, patients who are diagnosed with stage I colorectal cancer have a 74% 5-year survival rate compared with 6% for those diagnosed in stage IV.
The South African Gastroenterology Society (SAGES) recommends that people with average risk for colorectal cancer (no personal, family or medical history) should be offered screening from the age of 50. But because there are no definitive guidelines for colorectal cancer screening in South Africa, colonoscopies are either not done or done too often and may be unnecessary in some cases. In addition, a recent cost analysis of colorectal cancer shows that treatment costs are far higher in advanced stages of the disease with informal costs such as palliative care contributing a significant amount.
The market needs to be educated because colon cancer has a 94% survival rate if detected early.
Like any cancer, early diagnosis is key to survival. With our test now available in South Africa there should be no reason for people to avoid screening and for lives to be lost. The UDoColonTest™ is unique in that its simple collection method doesn’t require the handling of stool, and administering the test requires no special food intake or medication restrictions. The simple, toilet water collection method, allows patients to perform their own colon cancer screening in the comfort of their own home. As a result it has been welcomed by leading medical aids and gastroenterologists.
The UDoColonTest™ contains the InSure FIT test, manufactured by leading US-based biotechnology Company, Clinical Genomics, who have sold millions of units in the US. The test is 98.8% specific and 87.5% sensitive in detecting hidden blood in stool, which is a key risk indicator.
Randomised trials have confirmed that there is a significant increase in the uptake of colorectal screening through the use of FIT, specifically using this brush collection method.
If a FIT test comes back positive, then a colonoscopy is recommended.