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Communications ~ News at Medicine ~ March 2014 ~ What does your fecal matter reveal?



What does your fecal matter reveal?
March 31, 2014
It may not sound like the most pleasant activity, but by using a home fecal test known as a FIT kit, clients in the target population in the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program can mail a stool sample which is then sent to a central lab in St. John’s for analysis.
 
A team of researchers based in the Faculty of Medicine has received $50,000 funding through the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR) to determine the reproducibility, accuracy and stability of fecal transferrin compared to hemoglobin. The funding comes from the Enhancing Healthcare in Newfoundland and Labrador program.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest incidence and mortality rate in Canada from colorectal cancer, and these are among the highest rates worldwide. This project is a perfect fit that will provide an important screening process for many.
 
The research project is headed by Drs. Ed Randell and Jerry McGrath. Dr. Randell is an associate professor of laboratory medicine and division chief of clinical biochemistry with Eastern Health; Dr. McGrath is a gastroenterologist with Eastern Health, medical director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program and an associate professor of medicine. The other team members are Farah McCrate, a PhD student in the Faculty of Medicine and an epidemiologist with the Cancer Care Program of Eastern Health; and Scott Antle, manager of the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program with the Cancer Care Program of Eastern Health.
 
“Transferrin testing may provide an innovative and potentially superior way to screen for colorectal cancer compared with fecal hemoglobin,” explained Dr. McGrath.
 
The laboratory component of this research study will assess the reproducibility, accuracy and stability of fecal transferrin versus hemoglobin using the Hemo Techt NS-Plus analyzer system. “Specific design details will be similar to our previously published work,” said Dr. Randell. “The clinical evaluations will examine the diagnostic characteristics of fecal transferrin testing for pre-cancerous and cancerous colonic lesions.”
 
Participants identified for the study will be contacted and informed consent obtained. A two-day stool sample will be collected and sent to the central laboratory.

“The analysis of the fecal specimens will occur followed by a chart audit after the colonoscopy to capture family history, endoscopic findings and biopsy reports,” explained Dr. McGrath.
 
Dr. Randell said research shows that transferrin may be at higher levels in the stool among people with colon tumours. “The goal of our study is to compare testing for levels of transferrin with testing for hemoglobin using the FIT test kit, and using the results of colonoscopies to determine which method detects more pre-cancerous and cancerous polyps.”
 
This study is funded by one of four research grants awarded through the Enhancing Health Care in Newfoundland and Labrador Research Fund to advance the care of patients in Newfoundland and Labrador. The research fund was established as part of the recommendations put forth by the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing.

Further information is available on the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program website.
 

Dr. Ed Randell oversees the operation of the Hemo Techt NS-Plus analyzer system located at St. Clare’s Hospital.


Research team members (from left): Dr. Jerry McGrath, Farah McCrate and Scott Antle.