Guardant Health exposes colorectal cancer screening gap with new Harris Poll report

A new report has uncovered a worrying screening gap for colorectal cancer but found many Americans and most doctors would be willing to try out a new testing method that could close that gap.

That’s according to medical technology firm Guardant Health, which markets the Shield blood-based screening test for colorectal cancer (CRC), and survey giants the Harris Poll.

Together, polling 1,000 American adults aged 45-84, along with 351 doctors, they found that many still see CRC as carrying a stigma due to its placement. There is also concern over testing, particularly when using a colonoscopy, which can be invasive.

The CDC currently says that all people at an “average” risk should be screened from 45 years old, but around 50 million eligible Americans are not up to date with recommended screenings.

The Harris Poll survey found that among people who have not been screened, the perception that preparation for a colonoscopy “is unpleasant” was the most common barrier cited (47%) to completing a screening test.

Other barriers included concern around discomfort or pain during a colonoscopy (42%) or fear or anxiety around the screening process (35%), according to the report.

The way forward, however, may be through a blood test, as the report also found that 90% of eligible Americans “would be more likely to stay up to date with screening if there were a blood test option, citing quicker, easier and more pleasant options (89%) as top motivators to complete recommended screening.”

Doctors also agreed, with nearly all (97%) of primary care providers and 91% of gastroenterologists saying their patients would be more likely to stay up to date with screening if they had the option of a blood test.

There is clearly a need for more intervention: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer-related death in the U.S. and will be responsible for an estimated 53,010 deaths this year.

This would also be good for Guardant’s topline, as it would help it shift more tests if it gains FDA approval. The survey results were released as Guardant is awaiting an FDA decision on its Shield blood test in CRC.

Back in December, the FDA set March 28 this year for an AdComm to review the test, as Guardant gears up for a potential launch in the U.S. later this year. It is already marketed in several other countries, including South Korea.

“Ninety percent of eligible Americans surveyed said they would be more likely to stay up to date with colorectal cancer screening if there were a blood test option, and the vast majority of physicians surveyed agreed,” said Craig Eagle, M.D., Guardant Health chief medical officer, in a release.

“These survey results suggest the current screening gap could be closed with blood-based options like our Shield test, which could significantly increase screening adherence rates, leading to saved lives.”