Screen for Cancer with an At-Home Colon Cancer Test

Even if you're not at risk for colon cancer, getting a preventative colonoscopy can help to detect problems early. Despite doctor recommendations, no one looks forward to getting a colonoscopy. It's an invasive, uncomfortable procedure, but it could save your life.

The average person has around a 4% chance¹ of developing colon cancer at some point in their lives, with men at a slightly higher risk than women. 

As you become older, your risk increases. That’s why those over 50 years of age need to get screened for colon cancer annually with an at-home screening test and every ten years with a colonoscopy (based on current national cancer screening program Australia, CDC in the USA).

If you have risk factors (previous precancerous polyps, colon cancer, or a family history of cancer), your doctor may recommend you for more frequent colonoscopies or earlier screening.

Luckily, at-home colon cancer tests are nearly as effective as colonoscopies at detecting cancer. At-home tests are quick, safe, inexpensive, less invasive, and more accessible than colonoscopies. Learn more about these tests and see if they're right for you.

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We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Colon cancer, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

How to take an at-home colon cancer test

When caught early, colon cancer is one of the most treatable² forms of cancer. At-home colon cancer tests are a great way to detect this disease early before it begins to spread. But before you take an at-home test, it's important to understand how they work.

There are two types of at-home tests. One detects blood from potentially bleeding cancers/precancerous polyps. This may be a fecal occult blood test (FOB) or the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). Another type detects cancer cells and blood. (FIT-DNA test). This costs more and needs a full bowel sample, so it is more difficult than the first.

With these tests, you need to collect a single small amount of your stool and send it off to a lab to be tested. You can buy a test that includes everything you need - some are available online.

Unlike a colonoscopy, you don't need to prep in the days and hours before the test. Foods and drinks won't interfere with the test, so you can eat and drink as you usually would.

If any blood or cancer is detected in one of these at-home tests, you'll still need to get a colonoscopy to get a proper diagnosis and rule out any alternatives like hemorrhoids. However, an at-home test is the first step in making sure your colon is healthy.

How accurate are at-home colon cancer tests?

It's important to remember that colonoscopies are the most accurate way to detect colon cancer. However, at-home colon cancer tests are quite accurate for the most part. For example, the FIT mentioned in the above section detects cancer with around 79% accuracy³. 5% of the time, these tests deliver false positives, which means they detect cancer when none is present.

The FIT-DNA tests are more accurate at 92% but deliver false positives more often (14% of the time).

In the past, tests called Guaiac FOBT were often used as at-home tests, but these tests aren't very accurate.

When should you take an at-home test?

If you are at normal risk for colon cancer, an at-home test is a great way to screen for any abnormalities without undergoing a procedure. An at-home colon cancer test should generally be performed yearly.

While these tests are nearly as effective as getting a colonoscopy, they aren't recommended for a few types of people. It's best to get an in-person colonoscopy with your doctor if:

  • You have previously had colon cancer 

  • You've had a parent or sibling diagnosed with colon cancer before age 60

  • You've had two relatives who were diagnosed with colon cancer

  • Your doctor has noticed abnormalities on previous screenings

  • You have inflammatory bowel disease

If you don't have any of those risk factors, at-home colon cancer screenings may be right for you. Even though it's recommended that you complete these tests more regularly than colonoscopies, they are a quick and accessible way to detect cancer early.

What are the leading test brands?

Not all at-home colon cancer tests are created equal. When it comes to protecting your health, it's always a good idea to research which tests are most effective.

Cologuard is currently the only approved multitarget stool DNA test on the market today, so if your doctor recommends this type of test, the Cologuard brand is your only option.

When it comes to FIT tests, it's best to talk to your doctor about which they recommend. There are many brands, including Everlywell, Second Generation, Pixel by LabCorp, among others. Speak with your doctor about any risks and concerns you may have about the pros and cons of at-home colon cancer tests.

How to get an at-home test

To get an at-home test, you may need to get a prescription from your doctor and then pick up the test at your pharmacy. However, you can also buy tests online from trusted retailers. Your doctor will prescribe the type of test that's right for you. In many cases, your insurance will cover these tests, but it's best to check with your insurance company to make sure.

When you've completed the at-home test, you simply have to mail it back to your doctor or a lab. They will analyze the test results within a few weeks and send those results to your doctor.

Your doctor will then get in touch with you so you can go over the results together. If the tests found anything abnormal, the next step will be to get a colonoscopy. This will help determine if the result was a false positive or there is evidence that you do have a colon cancer diagnosis.

Have you considered clinical trials for Colon cancer?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Colon cancer, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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