The stool DNA test is more accurate than the plasma septin 9 test in detecting colorectal neoplasia

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Mar;10(3):272-7.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2011.10.008. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Background & aims: Several noninvasive tests have been developed for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. We compared the sensitivities of a multimarker test for stool DNA (sDNA) and a plasma test for methylated septin 9 (SEPT9) in identifying patients with large adenomas or CRC.

Methods: We analyzed paired stool and plasma samples from 30 patients with CRC and 22 with large adenomas from Mayo Clinic archives. Stool (n = 46) and plasma (n = 49) samples from age- and sex-matched patients with normal colonoscopy results were used as controls. The sDNA test is an assay for methylated BMP3, NDRG4, vimentin, and TFPI2; mutant KRAS; the β-actin gene, and quantity of hemoglobin (by the porphyrin method). It was performed blindly at Exact Sciences (Madison, Wisconsin); the test for SEPT9 was performed at ARUP Laboratories (Salt Lake City, Utah). Results were considered positive based on the manufacturer's specificity cutoff values of 90% and 89%, respectively.

Results: The sDNA test detected adenomas (median, 2 cm; range, 1-5 cm) with 82% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI], 60%-95%); SEPT9 had 14% sensitivity (95% CI, 3%-35%; P = .0001). The sDNA test identified patients with CRC with 87% sensitivity (95% CI, 69%-96%); SEPT9 had 60% sensitivity (95% CI, 41%-77%; P = .046). The sDNA test identified patients with stage I-III CRC with 91% sensitivity (95% CI, 71%-99%); SEPT9 had 50% sensitivity (95% CI, 28%-72%; P = .013); for stage IV CRC, sensitivity values were 75% (95% CI, 35%-97%) and 88% (95% CI, 47%-100%), respectively (P = .56). False positive rates were 7% for the sDNA test and 27% for SEPT9.

Conclusions: Based on analyses of paired samples, the sDNA test detects nonmetastatic CRC and large adenomas with significantly greater levels of sensitivity than the SEPT9 test. These findings might be used to modify approaches for CRC prevention and early detection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • DNA / analysis*
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Septins / blood*


  • Hemoglobins
  • DNA
  • SEPTIN9 protein, human
  • Septins