Despite concerns over its accuracy, the CMS has granted national coverage for a new screening test for colon cancer that uses a patient's DNA to detect molecular alterations associated with the disease.
The Cologuard test is made by Wisconsin-based Exact Sciences. The CMS is agreeing to pay for the test once every three years for beneficiaries ages 50 to 85 who are asymptomatic and at average risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. About 140,000 new cases of colon and rectum cancer were diagnosed last year, and it caused more than 50,000 deaths, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Providers typically spot tumors by testing blood found in stool.