Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the US and is 90% preventable if detected early. Unfortunately, almost 40% of Americans are not being adequately screened for colon cancer. The covid pandemic has made things even worse with an over 70% drop in regular cancer screenings according to some studies.
A new digital health startup aims to drastically improve colon cancer screening across the United States. Convena Health has developed a unique, cost-effective approach that can detect over 90% of colon cancers using an easy at-home test.
Their test is a well-studied FDA - approved immunoassay that looks for microscopic human blood in a tiny stool sample collected by patients in the comfort and privacy of their homes.
Convena mails the home "FIT" (Fecal immunochemical test) directly to patient homes and provides an online clinical experience for physicians to interact with the patients and prescribe and interpret the test results. Because Convena Health owns and operates their own lab, they can process the FIT test at a lower cost than other companies and, therefore, expand the reach of their screening efforts.
The American Cancer Society and leading Gastroenterology organizations recommend that all Americans 45 years of age and older at average risk for colon cancer take a FIT test annually.
Convena Health told us that the idea stemmed from their physician founder's personal experiences with cancer as well as those of family members and friends. "I was shocked that such an easily treatable, yet deadly, disease was being inconsistently screened for in the American healthcare system. I learned that many physicians are unaware of the significant improvements in stool testing accuracy over the past few years. A large number of consumers are also reluctant to undergo colonoscopy because it's invasive, requires anesthesia and can cost a couple of thousand dollars."
Approximately 1 in 24 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, which often has no symptoms. Patients who have a positive FIT result are referred for colonoscopy to determine the cause of the bleeding. Conditions such as diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease and polyps are other causes of the microscopic bleeding that can be detected and addressed.
Consumers can purchase the stool tests online at ConvenaHealth.com and get their results in just a few days. Because Convena Health is focused on making screening affordable, convenient, and widely available for all Americans, they believe they can save thousands of lives per year. Let's hope they succeed.