colorectal cancer

Lance Baldo of Freenome on their Approach to Early Cancer Detection

When excitement around early cancer detection first surfaced, we heard about the “pan-cancer” test that would look for any and all cancers, and early. Now that we’re some years into it, the approach is turning out to be more of a narrow one. Which cancer will we likely see targeted first with an FDA cleared test? Colorectal, according to today’s guest.

We’re joined by Lance Baldo, Chief Medical Officer at Freenome, a company based in South San Francisco, California that has raised over a billion dollars to pursue early cancer detection. They are engaged in several large studies, including the largest prospective study ever to detect colorectal cancer with over 40,000 enrollees.

Lance readily admits that early cancer detection is difficult. The company is using a multi-omic—genomics and proteomics-- approach to improve the sensitivity and specificity of its testing which sets them apart from its competitors. But Lance says there can be a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity. And he points out that each cancer is different when making the call.

“It’s our philosophy that every cancer will have a slightly different need in terms of the interplay between sensitivity and specificity. That philosophy is different from others in this space."

Why is Freenome pursuing colorectal cancer first? Where are they at on their timeline of commercialization? And what will the product launch look like—how will patients engage with this new kind of testing?