Screening for colon cancer is an essential consideration of routine health care. If you’re over 45, you should have colon cancer screening (CRC) done. One of the most prevalent screening methods is a colonoscopy, which is a clinical procedure that involves viewing the colon with a camera linked to a probe. It also necessitates a thorough cleansing of the bowels with laxatives. While colonoscopy might seem the only option, know that other less invasive and less expensive colonoscopy alternatives to explore.
Colon cancer screening has never been easier or more accurate. Many FDA-approved do-it-yourselfers colonoscopy alternatives for the elderly are available that allow you to collect your stool sample in the ease of your own home.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a simple home test for colon cancer that can help you keep track of your health. This is one of the recommended colonoscopy alternatives. To discover early signs of colon cancer, look for blood in your stool. However, this can be performed only if you are 45 years old or older.
What does the test do?
FIT examines your feces for concealed blood. This is one of the home tests for colon cancer. Many physicians and public health organizations promote this non-invasive screening procedure because colorectal polyps (which may be precancerous) can leak blood during the passage of feces.
These colonoscopy alternatives look for concealed blood in the stool to check for CRC. Each test kit includes step-by-step instructions, specifically designed capture paper, and a sample-collection wand, as well as everything you need to collect your sample safely and cleanly from the comfort of your own home.
Who are all eligible for colon cancer screening tests?
As you become older, your chances of developing colon cancer increase. In reality, 88 percent of instances of colon cancer occur in adults aged 50 and up, with median diagnosis age of 67 years.
Yearly FIT testing(colonoscopy alternatives) is recommended for those at average risk of colon cancer between 45 and 75. If necessary, a physician will decide whether or not to approve your test request.
Other considerations, such as overall health and willingness to undergo treatment if your test findings are positive, must be considered for those over 75.
If you don’t have any of the following, you’re regarded to be at moderate risk.
- Patients with a history of colon cancer or a genetic propensity to colon cancer (such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis)
- History of irritable bowel disease
- A history of colon/ colorectal cancer, adenomas, or other relevant cancers
- Another screening procedure yielded a favorable result last year.
For high-risk individuals, the age of initial screening and surveillance intervals are strongly dependent on the type of the risk. Suppose any of the points above apply to you; talk to your doctor about when to start colon cancer screening, what type of screening test is best, and how often you should repeat screening. If you have colon cancer, consult the colon cancer specialists to know how quickly the colonoscopy begins.
Possible measures to be taken while testing
There is no need for you to modify your diet or stop taking any medications before the test. If you possess either of the following symptoms, you should wait to be tested. These are:
- Bleeding from hemorrhoids
- Recent diverticulitis flare
- Currently menstruating
- Blood in the urine
- Recent GI surgery
Drawbacks of FIT
Patients must repeat FIT every year since polyps may not be bleeding at the time of testing, and the test relies on blood in the stool to diagnose colon cancer. If the FIT test comes up positive, you’ll still need a colonoscopy to examine colon cancer further. Another disadvantage is that the FIT test is prone to false-positive results, requiring further evaluation via a colonoscopy.
FDA, the Food and Drug Administration has approved Cologuard as the stool test for colon cancer. Cologuard scans your DNA for alterations that could signal the existence of colon cancer or precancerous polyps. This is becoming immensely popular since it is significantly less intrusive and convenient than a regular colonoscopy. This is yet another one of the recommended colonoscopy alternatives for the elderly.
This home test for colon cancer screening has several advantages, but it also has significant disadvantages, including worries about its accuracy.
How does cologuard work?
The third most prevalent cancer is colon cancer. Even if you don’t have symptoms or a family medical history of colon cancer, putting you at an “average” risk, doctors usually recommend starting screening at the age of 50. These colonoscopy alternatives for the elderly detect aberrant DNA and traces of blood in the stool caused by precancerous polyps and colon cancer.
Before you can order a Cologuard kit, your doctor must first recommend the test. Here’s what to consider if you’re taking the Cologuard exam.
- You’ll get a kit with everything you need to collect a stool sample with the minimal possibility of contact with your feces. A bracket and collection bucket is included, as well as a probe and lab tube set, a preservative solution to keep your sample safe during delivery, and a prepaid postage label to return the box to the lab.
- Have a bowel movement while taking a stool that goes directly into the collection container, using the unique bracket and collection bucket that comes with the package.
- Collect one swab specimen of your bowel movement using the plastic probe included in the kit and place it in a unique sanitized tube.
- Fill your stool sample with the preservation solution supplied in the kit and close the protective lid snugly.
- Fill out the form with your personal information, as well as the date and time your sample was taken.
- Return all gathered samples within 24 hours and ship them back to the lab.
What to do if at-home test results are suspicious?
If your Cologuard test shows that you have precancerous or cancerous growths, your doctor will perform a colonoscopy to confirm the results and remove any precancerous or malignant changes.
The Cologuard test provides several distinct advantages over others. These are:
- It can be completed from home, saving time spent in waiting rooms or waiting for an exam in the hospital.
- Some people are apprehensive about having a colonoscopy since it usually necessitates anesthesia.
- With Cologuard, you can be screened without sedation or anesthesia. If your Cologuard test comes up abnormal, you should schedule a colonoscopy.
- Cologuard does not necessitate any prior preparation. Before getting a Cologuard test, you don’t need to stop taking any drugs or fast.
Drawbacks of cologuard
Cologuard, just like other colonoscopy alternatives, can produce inaccurate results. It can provide the false impression that you have colon cancer or precancerous polyps when you don’t. It could also suggest you don’t have an issue when you do, and the test just missed it.
Polyps can be missed during these colonoscopy alternatives, although the chances are negligible. Because of this, many clinicians still regard this test as the gold standard. That’s why doctors advise patients with a higher risk of polyps or cancer to have a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy is still the most effective screening test for colon cancer, without a doubt. The advanced colonoscopy alternatives diagnose colon tumors with an accuracy rate and allow surgeons to remove precancerous and cancerous polyps while performing the treatment. But now, patients have another option to colonoscopy.
You’ll need a prescription from your doctor to perform at-home colon cancer screening. With the prescription kit, you’ll collect the sample at home and mail it to the prescribing doctor (or a lab). Your doctor will go over the issues with you after the analysis is finished. If a patient’s at-home test is positive, a colonoscopy is still required to diagnose cancer, remove polyps, and prevent cancer.
The essential colonoscopy alternatives screening tests are the ones that are completed. So, even if folks don’t want to have a colonoscopy, they must take the at-home screening colonoscopy alternatives. You can simply visit University Cancer Centers for more information on how you can detect colon cancer without colonoscopy.