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Participants needed for cancer study

ALBANY — The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, Phoebe Gastroenterology and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital are partnering with a national company to conduct a clinical trial for early detection of colorectal cancer, officials with the coalition say.

The Cancer Coalition is looking for men and women 65-84 years of age who may be eligible for a colorectal cancer screening research study currently being conducted in partnership with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital as well as Phoebe Gastroenterology.

More than 1,300 Georgia residents die from colorectal cancer each year, health officials say.

The coalition has joined with a national diagnostics company for the study, which officials say has the potential to revolutionize colorectal cancer screening and ultimately encourage more people to be screened for the disease.

The Cancer Coalition began work with Exact Sciences of Madison, Wis., in late 2011 as one of 100 study sites nationally participating in the clinical trial on non-invasive diagnostic screening for early detection of colorectal cancer. The study involves testing stool-based DNA of consenting patients 50-84 years of age who are at average risk for colorectal cancer.

Study participants use a take-home kit to provide stool samples. Within 90 days, the patient receives a pre-scheduled colonoscopy performed by a Phoebe Gastroenterology physician. Participants who complete the study receive a $100 stipend.

“Colorectal cancer is treatable if caught early, and this test shows promise as a non-invasive screening tool that may ultimately encourage more people to be screened as recommended by their doctor,” said site principal investigator Dr. Matthew Grundfast, a physician with the practice.

Officials say the primary objective of the study, called DeeP-C (Multi-Target Colorectal Cancer Screening Test for the Detection of Colorectal Advanced Adenomatous Polyps and Cancer), is to determine the sensitivity of a diagnostic screening test for colorectal cancer using colonoscopy as the reference method. Once completed, data generated from the study will be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At the site, Cancer Coalition Research Specialist Aisha Viquez works in conjunction with Phoebe Gastroenterology in identifying and recruiting study participants. To date, more than 80 people have been enrolled, officials say.

The study quota has been met for patients 50-64 years of age, and now individuals 65-84 years of age are being sought.

“We are in need of study participants 65 and older because the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age,” Viquez said.

She added that both men and women with no personal or immediate family history of colorectal cancer who have not had a colonoscopy in at least nine years should inquire about the study.

The study officially kicked off late last year and is expected to continue through the end of this year, or when the desired number of participants is reached as determined by Exact Sciences, officials at the Cancer Coalition say.

Uninsured and underinsured individuals who would like more information about receiving a colonoscopy can call and ask to speak with a health navigator with the Cancer Coalition’s community cancer screening program at (229) 312-1700.