Polymedco Inc has added a new analyzer to its existing automated testing platforms. The OC Auto Micro 80 analyzer processes a new FDA-cleared immunochemical test to detect the presence of blood in stool samples. The test is recommended for use in routine physical examinations, monitoring for bleeding in patients, and screening for colorectal cancer or gastrointestinal bleeding. Traditionally, such testing has been performed manually with guaiac-based tests, but the compliance rate of patients collecting samples for screening has been poor. This shortfall in compliance has largely been due to the dietary restrictions necessary with guaiac-based tests, as well as the negative perceptions associated with stool specimen collection. The OC Auto Micro 80 eliminates both of these concerns because results are not affected by diet and a new proprietary collection device reduces three sample collections to one.

According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer accounts for more than 56,000 deaths per year. At 10% of cancer-related deaths, colorectal cancer has the third highest mortality rate of all forms of cancer. Statistics show that 1 in 17 American men and 1 in 18 American women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Currently, the survival rate is 62%, but with better patient compliance, increased screening will likely identify patients in earlier stages of the disease. This could improve the survival rate and reduce long-term medical costs associated with late-stage colorectal cancer. The ACS recommends that beginning at age 50, men and women should receive a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year. However, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ACS, adherence to these guidelines was only 21% in 2002.

Another ACS report indicates that in comparison with guaiac-based tests for the detection of occult blood, immunochemical tests are likely to be equal or better in sensitivity and specificity, according to Tara Cervasio, product manager at Polymedco. Because a positive fecal occult blood test leads to more invasive procedures, such as flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, improved sensitivity and specificity would reduce the number of false-positives, thereby lowering overall medical costs associated with these procedures.

Polymedco Inc
(800) 431-2123; www.polymedco.com