Bowel cancer test developed by doctor after he lost his father to the illness

Dr Chun Tang created ColoAlert as a way of detecting bowel cancer early – now he hopes to roll out the product across the world

The developer of a novel, non-invasive test for colon cancer is hopeful that it will greatly reduce fatalities resulting from illness.

Dr Chun Tang, who lost his father to colon cancer, began working on the product when his brother was also diagnosed with the illness, at the young age of 30. “It’s best to do the screening as early as possible to detect the biomarkers before it even becomes stage one, two, three, or four,” he explains, speaking with IMT.

“The earlier the detection, the greater survival rates. Most people, when they do have a diagnosis, end up being at the second, third or fourth stage. Ideally, we want to get the cancer at stage one – or before it even becomes cancer at all.”

ColoAlert detects colorectal cancer (CRC) via a simple-to-administer test with a sensitivity and specificity almost as high as a colonoscopy.

The at-home test utilises proprietary methods to analyse cell DNA for specific tumour markers, combined with the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and is designed to detect tumour DNA and CRC cases in their earliest stages.

The product is CE-IVD marked (complying with EU safety, health, and environmental requirements) and is transitioning to compliance with IVDR.

ColoAlert is privately available in a selection of countries in the European Union, as well as the UK, though not Ireland yet.

Irish people sometimes have difficulty recognising symptoms of bowel cancer. Almost one in two people are not confident when it comes to spotting early signs of bowel cancer, according to research published by the Irish Cancer Society last month.

The survey of 1,000 people also found that one in four have a potential symptom of bowel cancer and have yet to seek a medical opinion. Nearly 2,700 people in Ireland are diagnosed with bowel (colorectal) cancer each year. Meanwhile, other findings from the research indicate that many people delay when it comes to their health and ‘make calls’ on the seriousness of symptoms.

While over half of the people surveyed associated symptoms including unexplained weight loss and a lasting change in bowel habits as warning signs related to bowel cancer, just over four in 10 would adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach if they experienced these symptoms.

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