Exact Sciences CFO Jeff Elliott says the foundation laid with Cologuard will help bring to market other screening tools, such as a lung cancer test.

Elliott gave a promising update on Cologuard and laid out the Madison-based company’s plans at a recent Wisconsin Technology Council luncheon in Madison.

Exact Sciences’ noninvasive Cologuard test screens for colon cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

“Cologuard is really the first product in what we see as a series of diagnostics,” Elliott said.

He says the company has been working with the Mayo Clinic for the past five years, exploring other cancers which could be screened for using blood tests. Though he says there are over 40 potential products in the pipeline aimed at 15 different cancers, a lung nodule test is the company’s biggest priority after Cologuard.

“About 1.5 million times a year, doctors and patients have to answer the question: ‘What is that white dot?’ … There’s a 95 percent chance that it’s nothing, but a 5 percent chance that it’s lung cancer,” Elliott said.

He says for the majority of those cases where a scan turns up something questionable, doctors tell potentially worry-stricken patients to go home and come back in a year. For about 20 percent of cases, the patient undergoes a procedure where a long needle is inserted in between the ribs in an attempt to sample the nodule. Elliott says about 20 percent of those who get the needle procedure experience a collapsed lung.

“We think a better opportunity, a better test would be at the time you diagnose that nodule to do a blood draw… to see if that nodule is cancer or benign,” he said. “What we see is a market opportunity between $750 [million] and $1.5 billion — this is a highly motivated doctor/patient population.” Read the full story here.