What happened

Shares of Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS) are up 9.2% at 11:49 a.m. EST, having been up as much as 12% today, following the release of abstracts for the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Cancers (ASCO-GI) Symposium yesterday evening.

So what

Exact Sciences didn't seem to have any major presentations on its Cologuard colon cancer test at the meeting, but the healthcare company's potential private-company competitors did. And to Exact Sciences' benefit, they seem to fall short of being ready to compete with Cologuard.

Grail's Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas study, which tests for tumor DNA in patients' blood, found 82% of all colon cancers, including 96% of stage 4 tumors, but only 72% of tumors in earlier stages 1-3.

Freenome's blood-based screening test was able to detect 80% of early-stage colon cancers and 83% of late-stage tumors.

Investors should watch for more details in the presentations at the ASCO-GI symposium, which starts tomorrow, but so far Grail's and Freenome's tests seem to be falling short of Cologuard, which found 92% of all colon cancers in its pivotal clinical trial.

Doctor talking to a patient in an exam room

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Given the choice, many patients would rather have a blood test than use Cologuard, which requires collecting a fecal sample. But as long as the blood tests aren't as sensitive, doctors will continue to prescribe Cologuard, which is still much more pleasant than a colonoscopy.