Sonora Quest is out for blood in pursuit of colorectal cancer eradication

The above graphic depicts the rate at which colorectal cancers are being diagnosed here in Arizona to younger and younger individuals. (Graphic: Arizona Department of Health Services)

Numbers show various forms of colorectal cancer are on the rise in Americans, and data illustrates those younger than 50 years old being diagnosed with the illness is on an alarming upward trend.

As Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials begin to realize the physiological effects of sedentary lifestyles and poor nutritional choices various forms of cancer diagnosis continue to see an uptick for those who may still believe, “that’s something for me to worry about when I am older.”

Colorectal cancer is being diagnosed at alarming rates to those in their 20s, 30s and 40s despite the common medical mantra of colon cancer screenings are needed after the age of 50. Those guidelines are changing quickly to include a baseline for screenings beginning as young as 45 years old espcially if there is a family history of the disease.

The above graphic depicts the adjusted rate — 36 years old — for those diagnosed with colorectal cancers in Maricopa County. (Graphic: Arizona Department of Health Services)

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance reports 11 percent of colon cancer diagnoses and 18 percent of rectal cancer diagnoses occur in those under 50, which is the only growing subset of cancer diagnosis in the United States of America.

In Arizona, data shows 31.8 per 100,000 people were diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer — which equates to 2,583 cases reported per year — and an estimated 2,840 cases will be reported this year.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that of the 1,373 colorectal cancers diagnosed in Maricopa County last year the adjusted age rate was 36 years old for those who were diagnosed.

Furthermore, 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could have been prevented if the necessary screening methods were done including blood tests, fecal evaluation and the gold standard: A colonscopy procedure.

But that’s where a local laboratory is trying to provide more access to non-invasive procedures to help those at-risk catch the disease at the beginning.

Medical professionals contend colorectal cancers are the most curable when caught early.

Sonora Quest Laboratories and Beacon Biomedical have jointly announced the availability of a new colorectal cancer screening blood test called BeScreened-CRC.

Launched in March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Sonora Quest officials say access to affordable blood tests — with or without a doctor’s referral — is paramount to catching the disease early.

Dave Dexter

The test is a patient-friendly, alternative to enabling early detection, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, according to Dave Dexter, Arizona Sonora Quest Laboratories president and CEO.

“The reason we did this is when you look at the stats for colorectal cancer there are 135,000 newly diagnosed cases and 50,000 deaths every single year,” he said. “More than 50 percent of all the new cases and a lot of the associated cancers, nearly 75 percent of them stem from colorectal cancer.”

Sonora Quest’s My Lab ReQuest service is available online and at all of Sonora Quest’s 70-plus patient service centers across Arizona.

“I am one of the CEOs against cancer,” Mr. Dexter said of his personal and professional pursuit. “Having a blood test is a lot easier than any of those other screening tests and if everyone would get them we could bring those death rates to near zero.”

The My Lab ReQuest, launched in 2015, has had an overwhelmingly positive response, Mr. Dexter points out.

“It is really empowering consumers to engage and take control of their health — it has been very, very successful,” he said noting experts are available to help decipher results. “The issue of interpreting your lab tests; if customers are confused they can call their physician or they can call us, but there really hasn’t been any issue with that.”

Early on, Mr. Dexter, admits private practice doctors were sounding the alarm regarding administering blood tests without a formal referral from a medical professional.

“They say it has been complimentary to them as well,” he said. “I think it has all been really positive. It is just another way of effectively managing your health and your healthcare costs.”

The colorectal blood test screening is offered at $170 through Sonora Quest Laboratories.

“Arizona is one of 26 states that have some type of direct to consumer law,” he said explaining a doctor’s referral is not necessary for a blood test. “Early detection for colorectal cancer is one of the most effective ways to fight the disease. A blood test is a way to get at it.”

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Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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