- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - Doctors at the Mayo Clinic are offering a new way for patients to be tested for colon cancer.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1tPcCY3 ) reports officials announced Monday the Rochester clinic will be the nation’s first to provide patients with a new at-home colon cancer test. The Cologuard test recently won government approval as the first such test that uses patients’ DNA to detect warning signs in stool samples. Patients mail the samples to be tested, and then learn their results in as little as two weeks.

Dr. David Ahlquist, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, co-invented Cologuard and Ahlquist and Mayo will share equity and royalties through a licensing agreement. The test, which is manufactured by Madison-based Exact Sciences, will only be available through prescriptions from the clinic’s primary care doctors.

Mayo officials think the alternative to a colonoscopy will lead more adults to get tested.

“We believe offering this new tool will promote patient and community public health and may move more patients to get screened earlier - a critical step in beating this prevalent and preventable cancer,” said Dr. Vijay Shah, Mayo’s chairman of gastroenterology and hepatology.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the nation. Although it’s preventable through proper screening, 23 million Americans ages 50 to 75 don’t follow screening recommendations. Early detection of colon cancer can mean a five-year survival rate of over 90 percent.

“I am hopeful that the test’s efficacy and convenience will result in improved detection and survival rates for colorectal cancer,” Ahlquist said.

Cologuard is meant for adults ages 50 and over who have an average risk for the disease based on health and family history.

Clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the test is 92 percent accurate in identifying colon cancer and 69 percent accurate in identifying cells that indicate a high risk for cancer. About 1 in 10 people received false positive results.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com