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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 22, Issue 7, Pages 631-633

Fecal DNA Screening in Colorectal Cancer

Suzanne Richter

Department of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Received 30 July 2007; Accepted 2 April 2008

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in Canada, and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in nonsmokers. Although CRC is considered to be 90% curable if detected early, the majority of patients present with advanced stage III or IV disease. An effective screening test may significantly decrease disease burden. The present paper examines the rationale and potential of fecal DNA testing as an alternative and adjunct to other CRC screening tests. The most efficacious fecal DNA test developed to date has a sensitivity and specificity of 87.5% and 82%, respectively. The approach has a higher positive predictive value than the currently used fecal occult blood test and offers a noninvasive option to patients. It is not reliant on the presence of bleeding, which may be intermittent or altogether absent. The test is now commercially available and is supported by a number of American insurers. Current challenges include cost reduction and demonstration of mortality benefit in a rigorous clinical trial. Despite current challenges, fecal DNA testing is worth pursuing. Both the American Gastroenterological Society and the American Cancer Society maintain that molecular testing is in its infancy but is promising. Fecal DNA testing has the potential to be an exciting addition to the current armament of CRC screening options.