A Cologuard kit that patients can use to collect a stool sample for testing.

Colonoscopy, Cologuard, other stool tests: Who detects colon cancer?

  • A colonoscopy is recommended every ten years for people over 45. Screening is used to detect colon cancer.
  • But about 40 percent of eligible Americans don’t have a colonoscopy, often because they don’t want it.
  • So what are the options? FIT and Cologuard stool tests can be just as effective, doctors say.

What if you didn’t have to have a colonoscopy every ten years between the ages of 45 and 75?

No, that’s no excuse to skip colon cancer screening, which has been proven to save lives. But there are several alternatives, which most people don’t know much about.

They’re called stool tests and they’re just as crude as you might imagine, but they can be done at home, mailed to a lab, and don’t require any special preparation like a colonoscopy.

Over time, stool tests — including fecal immunochemical tests, or FITs, and the much-heralded Cologuard — can be just as effective in saving lives, and they avoid some of the drawbacks of colonoscopies, experts say. The main problem with saddle tests is that they need to be done more often: FIT every year and Cologuard every three years.

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