It is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, but colon cancer still kills some 50,000 Americans a year, primarily because half the people who should get screened don't. But while at-risk individuals continue to duck colonoscopies, DNA analysis has improved. In the process, it has paved the way for Exact Sciences' Cologuard, the first (and so far only) FDA-approved stool DNA noninvasive screening test. "We offer a test people can use in the privacy of their own home with an accuracy rate of 92% in detecting colorectal cancers," Conroy claims.
One key to the company's success, he says, was "a ridiculously large" clinical trial, a partnership with the Mayo Clinic that included more than 10,000 patients. The company is focused on getting the word out about the prescription-only Cologuard, in part via Facebook ads targeting people on their 50th birthdays. Moving forward, look for Exact Sciences to preach the early-detection gospel. —Sarah Mahoney