Researchers have found that the digital fecal occult blood test failed to identify ninety-five percent of growths which have the potential to become
malignant. The take home tests were shown to be far more effective even though they missed some seventy-five percent of such growths. Some experts
say that these tests should not be abandoned, but they should not be relied upon solely.
A common screening test failed to detect potentially cancerous colon growths 95 percent of the time, falsely reassuring patients and doctors,
according to a new study.
Researchers found that the digital, in-office test on stool samples was not as reliable as a six-sample test given to patients to do on their own at
home _ although even that test detected potentially cancerous growths less than 24 percent of the time.
"What we found is that it was pretty worthless," Dr. David Lieberman, one of the study's authors, said of the in-office test. "It's a wake-up
call that we shouldn't be relying on this test."
The study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted at 13 Veterans Affairs medical centers and involved 2,665 patients _
most of them men _ who were given the at-home test and the in-office test followed by a colonoscopy.
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This is not a subject most are fond of discussing, especially the digital component, but early detection plays a very important role in cancer
survival. It would be a good idea for individuals to discuss the findings of this study with their physicians when having their annual physical. I
had been led to believe that these two tests, when used in combination were reliable, but this does not seem to be the case.
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