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At-home test could catch cancer early, but some worry about impact

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Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014

By Michael Gordon


SAMANTHA DAVIS/CRONKITE NEWS: In Phoenix, one man claims his business has created a test that can help tell if someone has lung cancer. The blood test results are sent to you at your home, but that is causing concern for some medical professionals. Michael Gordon has more.

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: Each year, tobacco use causes nearly 225,000 new cases of lung cancer, and over 150,000 deaths. But president and CEO of Global Cancer Diagnostics Will Gartner intends to try and reduce the number of deaths through a new lung cancer detection test.

WILL GARTNER/GLOBAL CANCER DIAGNOSTICS: Early detection means less-invasive surgery.

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: Customers order the test online. When it arrives, they send back a blood sample to Gartner’s lab for testing. If there are signs of lung cancer, the customer is notified and advised to see their physician. But Gartner’s test has yet to gain approval by the Food and Drug Administration, a step that Gartner says is largely a formality.

WILL GARTNER/GLOBAL CANCER DIAGNOSTICS: FDA clearance is simply an approval that people are familiar with.

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: But at Scottsdale’s Mayo Clinic, Dr. Helen Ross is skeptical of at-home tests that don’t have the FDA’s support.

DR. HELEN ROSS/SCOTTSDALE MAYO CLINIC: If the test really is a good test it would be nice to have it validated in a clinical trial, in a cancer center, or in a setting of clinical researchers who have experience with diagnostic testing.

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: Gartner remains adamant about the effectiveness of the test, saying that it retains an accuracy rate of 97 percent.

WILL GARTNER/GLOBAL CANCER DIAGNOSTICS: It is a way for them to find out if they have lung cancer, but in the early stage.

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: But there’s also concern about getting that news in the mail.

DR. HELEN ROSS/SCOTTSDALE MAYO CLINIC: And you say, “Hello I’ve just been diagnosed with lung cancer from a blood test through the mail. What do I do now?”

MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: Just one of the burning questions doctors will have to answer as cancer-detection technology improves. In Phoenix, Michael Gordon reporting, Cronkite News.

SAMANTHA DAVIS/CRONKITE NEWS: Studies have shown that when lung cancer is detected in its early stages, the resulting survival rates can be around 80 to 90 percent.