only), and 204 histologically normal controls. Following DNA extraction, KRAS, BMP3, and NDRG4 were quantified using QuARTS assays, relative to ACTB (reference gene). Results: None of the molecular marker concentrations were significantly associated with age (P > 0.05 for all comparisons), with the exception of NDRG4 concentration in APL samples (higher in older vs. younger cases; P ¼ 0.008). However, NDRG4 levels were also statistically higher in APL case versus normal control samples in both the 45–49 (P < 0.0001) and 50–64 (P < 0.0001) year age groups. Conclusions: Overall, these findings support the potential for earlier onset of average-risk colorectal cancer screening with the mt-sDNA assay. Impact: These novel data address an identified knowledge gap and strengthen the biologic basis for earlier-onset, average-risk screening with the mt-sDNA assay.
Background: Emerging colorectal cancer trends demonstrate increased incidence and mortality in younger populations, prompting consideration of average-risk colorectal cancer screening initiation at age 45 versus 50 years. However, screening test performance characteristics in adults 45–49 years have been minimally described. To inform the biologic rationale for multi-target stool DNA (mt-sDNA) screening in younger patients, we analyzed and compared tissue levels of methylation (BMP3, NDRG4) and mutation (KRAS) markers included in the FDA-approved, mt-sDNA assay (Cologuard; Exact Sciences Corporation). Methods: Within 40–44, 45–49, and 50–64 year age groups, archived colorectal tissue specimens were identified for 211 sporadic colorectal cancer cases, 123 advanced precancerous lesions (APLs; adenomas >1 cm, high-grade dysplasia, ≥25% villous morphology, or sessile serrated polyp; 45–49 and 50–64 age groups.
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