No one really looks forward to getting their colonoscopy test and the 12-hour prep that includes drinking not-so-tasty laxatives, but colorectal cancer screenings can help discover any issues early on while it is easier to treat.
But colonoscopy tests aren’t the only way to get screened for colon cancer. There are colon cancer test kits available by prescription that you can take at home. Read on to learn more about colon cancer test kits and if they are right for you.
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Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer adds up to about 8.3% of all deaths related to cancer in the United States. About one in twenty people will be diagnosed with colon cancer during their lifetime.
Some symptoms of colon cancer may include:
- Bowel habits change
- Bleeding from anus
- Blood in stool
- Hemorrhoids or sores on anus
- No appetite or weight loss
- Pain or a lump in abdomen
When Should You Take a Colon Cancer Test?
Because around 50% of colon cancers are fatal, it’s important to identify the signs and symptoms as early as possible. A colon cancer test kit is right for you if you fall under any of the following categories:
- You are 45 or older
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- MYH-associated polyposis (MAP)
- Lynch Syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis Colon cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- History of adenomas
What Kinds of Colon Cancer Test Kits are Available?
Colon cancer test kits work by testing your feces for polyps of signs of cancer. They are done in the convenience of your own home. The kinds of test kits include:
Stool DNA Test: A multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA), this test looks for sections of DNA cancer cells that are abnormal. This is because the DNA of colon cancer or polyp cells include mutations that are located in certain genes. These mutated cells can be found in your stools.
Cologuard is the brand name for this kind of colon cancer test and you take this test every three years. The kit contains a container to catch the stool sample, liquid preservative, a tube, labels, a shipping box, and detailed instructions on how to collect and send the sample.
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): One method of testing for colon cancer is to look for hidden blood in the stool. This is because the blood in larger polyps or colon cancers can be fragile and easily damaged and bleed when you pass a stool.
This test works by collecting small amounts of your stool that is inserted into a tube or on a card. There are no drug or dietary restrictions before taking this test. This test is recommended to be taken every year.
Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT): This test also works by detecting blood in the stool through a chemical reaction. It won’t be able to tell if the blood is coming from your colon or other parts of your digestive tract.
This gFOBT should be taken every year and is recommended by the American Cancer Society. Some medications and food can affect the results of this test, such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like naproxen, aspirin, or ibuprofren and should be avoided for seven days before testing.
- Red meats like liver, lamb, or beef should not be eaten for three days before testing. The blood in the meat may cause a positive result.
- Vitamin C from supplements that are more than 250 mg daily or citrus fruits and juices should be avoided three days before testing.
What Happens if Your Test is Positive?
If your result is positive, you’ll have to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist to have a colonoscopy. If your colonoscopy turns out negative, you won’t have to take another colonoscopy for another 5 to 10 years and you should perform an at-home colon cancer test kit every year for screening.
Think you might be interested in getting Cologuard testing? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today.