A significant development in colorectal cancer screening has been made possible by a ground-breaking study headed by the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
The research suggests that a new stool test, the multitargetFIT-test (mtFIT), surpasses the current standard fecal immunochemical test (FIT) in detecting colorectal cancer precursors, potentially leading to a significant reduction in both new cases and fatalities associated with the disease.
Colorectal cancer is a global health concern, claiming the lives of nearly 935,000 individuals annually, with approximately 1.9 million new diagnoses reported each year worldwide. Early detection is pivotal for effective treatment, yet symptoms often manifest at advanced stages, underscoring the importance of screening initiatives.
FIT, the current screening method, detects the presence of hemoglobin in stool samples. However, it has limitations in identifying precancerous growths at an early stage. Dr. Gerrit Meijer, principal investigator at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, emphasizes the necessity of detecting tumors before they become invasive, which is where the mtFIT test excels.
The mtFIT test not only measures hemoglobin but also incorporates the analysis of two additional proteins, enhancing its precision in identifying cancer precursors. In a large-scale prospective study involving over 13,000 participants, the mtFIT test demonstrated superior performance compared to FIT.
Colorectal Cancer Screening Breakthrough
Dr. Meijer highlights the significant impact of the new test, projecting a potential reduction in colorectal cancer cases and mortality rates. Despite yielding more positive results and necessitating additional colonoscopies, the mtFIT test identified a substantially higher number of individuals with high-risk precursors of colon cancer.
The implications of implementing the mtFIT test in existing screening programs are profound. Dr. Meijer suggests that in countries like the Netherlands, where FIT cutoff values are relatively high, the new test could lead to a remarkable decrease in both new cases and mortalities associated with colorectal cancer.
However, the transition to widespread adoption of the mtFIT test requires adherence to rigorous diagnostic guidelines and large-scale production. Dr. Meijer’s team has taken a proactive step by establishing CRCbioscreen, a company aimed at facilitating the manufacturing and distribution of the mtFIT test.
In conclusion, the emergence of the mtFIT test represents a significant advancement in colorectal cancer screening. Its potential to detect precursors with higher accuracy offers hope for reducing the global burden of colorectal cancer, underscoring the importance of continued research and innovation in cancer detection and prevention.