The future of colonoscopy

Screening for colorectal cancer is getting much more refined. Here's how:

Artificial intelligence-assisted colonoscopies 

Artificial intelligence is taking colonoscopies to the next level. According to a study in Gastroenterology, using AI during colonoscopies may help decrease adenoma miss rates.

Medtronic's GI Genius is the technology at the forefront of this movement, with hospitals and health systems nationwide onboarding the technology. Most recently, Becker's reported that a Sanford Health location in Fargo, N.D., added GI Genius, making it the first facility in the state to use the technology.

Cologuard and fit testing

Cologuard is a noninvasive at-home colon cancer screening test. Fecal immunochemical test, or FIT testing, uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. Though neither are a replacement for colonoscopies, it can help decide who might need further screening. 

"I think we're going to see an increase in the use of Cologuard and FIT testing," Benjamin Levy III, MD, a gastroenterologist at University of Chicago Medicine, said. "It'll help fine tune who needs a diagnostic colonoscopy because naturally, in both private practice and academia, we have had a surge in the number of people who need screening colonoscopies after our [GI] societies changed the screening guidelines from starting at age 50 to now starting at age 45."

Blood tests

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine assessed the performance of a cell-free DNA blood-based test in a population eligible for colorectal cancer screening in identifying colorectal cancer. 

Though the blood test showed promise, the American Gastroenterological Association said that it should not be used to replace traditional colonoscopies.

"Colonoscopies allow detection and removal of precancerous polyps as well as identifying cancer early when it is in the most treatable stages," the AGA wrote in a press release. "The blood test reported in The New England Journal of Medicine study is only designed to pick up cancers and not precancerous polyps."

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