As gastroenterology struggles to increase colorectal cancer screening compliance rates nationwide, Exact Sciences is surpassing the national compliance rate with its stool DNA test, Cologuard.
Becker's ASC Review spoke to Exact Sciences' Director of Brand and Patient Marketing Leigh Myers on how Cologuard is faring in the marketplace and how the test has achieved such a high compliance rate.
Note: The responses were edited for style and clarity.
Question: Why is Exact Sciences seeing a 66 percent compliance rate? Does the at-home option fuel the high compliance numbers?
Leigh Myers: Screening allows for the identification of early-stage cancers and precancers, when they can be most effectively treated. Exact Sciences’ noninvasive Cologuard is more than just a screening test. Every patient who is prescribed a Cologuard kit is supported by a comprehensive service to support test completion and compliance. Cologuard is supported by a patient compliance program as well as 24/7 support in 70 languages to patients and healthcare professionals alike. This comprehensive service has been designed specifically to address barriers to colorectal cancer screening, and it helps us achieve the high compliance rate with Cologuard.
Q: What are the challenges of informing new clients about Cologuard?
LM: Colonoscopy is often thought of as the only screening option for CRC, when in fact, the United States Preventive Service Task Force guidelines include several recommended options, both invasive and noninvasive. The guidelines emphasize that “the best test is the one that gets done.” While challenging, we do know that we are moving the needle. We screened 250,000 people in 2016 alone despite being a relatively new test.
Q: Are new to colonoscopy patients apprehensive about the test? What does Exact Sciences do to quell their fears?
LM: Patients who have not been screened before may have fears about things like discomfort, lack of privacy, bowel preparation and taking time off work. Cologuard offers patients a noninvasive, safe and effective screening option that can be completed at home without the need for uncomfortable prep or sedation.
Q: What is Exact Sciences/the healthcare industry doing to reach underserved patient populations?
LM: Because 35 million Americans eligible for screening have not been screened, Exact Sciences has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to inform consumers about the importance of screening as well as let them know about noninvasive Cologuard. We know this has been effective because 51 percent of Cologuard users had never been screened before.
Q: What is something you'd want our audience to know about Exact Sciences' screening efforts?
LM: Exact Sciences developed Cologuard because although colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early, not enough eligible Americans 50 to 75 years old are getting screened. We also want consumers to know there’s an effective, noninvasive screening option for average-risk adults age 50 and older in Cologuard, which can be used at home without any special prep or sedation.