- Colon cancer diagnostic tests are recommended for everyone over the age of 50.
- With early detection, colorectal cancer survival rate is over 90 percent.
- You can do some colon cancer screening tests at home.
- The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is 92 percent effective in detecting colorectal cancer.
- A positive result requires a follow-up with a doctor.
Colon cancer diagnostic tests should be part of your standard health screening, especially later in life. This type of cancer is common but also highly preventable. Now it’s possible to test yourself at home with reliable at-home screening tests.
Why Screen for Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S. Many people think it’s a disease of old age, but that’s not true. The number of people in their 40s or 50s who get diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer every year is rising.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends regular colorectal screening tests from the age of 45 (50 at the latest). Regular screening is important because with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is over 90 percent.
Regular screening can reduce the risk of death from this disease. Colorectal cancer takes up to ten years to develop, so with regular checkups, you can catch it at an early stage.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Once you hit 45, you should talk to your doctor about screening. But even if you’re younger, you should be aware of worrying signs and find out if you’re not in a high-risk group (for example, similar cancer cases in your family).
Here are the symptoms to watch out for:
- Digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhea lasting longer than a few days
- Blood in stool or coming from the rectum
- Belly cramping and pain
- Losing weight without dieting
Remember that these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. They can be a sign of something less serious, such as hemorrhoids. It’s important to observe your body and talk to a physician when in doubt.
Colon Cancer Screening Methods
There are several diagnostic methods to detect colorectal cancer in a medical setting. You should weigh the pros and cons, but the availability of some tests might also depend on your insurance coverage.
- Colonoscopy. This is the most popular option, very effective in detecting cancer. You should repeat it every 10 years, though if you’re in a high-risk group, your provider may recommend every five years. Keep in mind this is an invasive method which requires some form of sedation, but this is good because it allows the physician to remove any suspicious polyps at the time of the test.
- Sigmoidoscopy. This procedure is a bit easier than colonoscopy and does not require sedation. The doctor examines only your rectum and a part of the colon, and can remove polyps that could turn cancerous later in life.
- Virtual colonoscopy. This method uses a CT scanner to visualize your colon and rectum. It’s noninvasive, but if anything suspicious is found, you may need a traditional colonoscopy.
Home Colon Cancer Screening Tests
Some people don’t want to do invasive tests. Others need to get screened more often than every 10 years. At-home test kits make health monitoring easy and are a good place to start. Currently, there are several home testing options, such as guaiac fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and multitargeted stool DNA testing (FIT-DNA). But the most popular screening tool is the fecal immunochemical test (FIT).
What’s a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)?
This test checks for hidden blood in stool. Unlike some other tests, this one doesn’t require dietary modifications or special preparations. It’s not 100 percent effective, however. If you get a positive result, you will need medical follow-up. It may not be cancer, but it could be another condition requiring treatment.
How Do I Do a FIT Test at Home?
Before you do a FIT test, read the instructions carefully. Have the kit ready and wait for a bowel movement. Place a plastic container covered with toilet paper in the toilet. Once you have the sample, you need to dip the test stick in the feces and put the stick in a test tube. Label the tube as instructed and mail it in a special envelope.
What Do FIT Test Results Mean?
FIT tests are 92 percent effective in detecting colorectal cancer. Lab results usually come in after two to five days. Many sellers offer a free medical consultation if you get a positive result. In any case, you should follow up with your doctor to conduct more diagnostics.
Getting a positive result is stressful, but remember that it doesn’t always mean cancer. Even if it is, chances of recovery are high.
Getting a negative result does not guarantee that you are cancer-free. Approximately 10 percent of tests are false negatives. You need to pay attention to your body’s signals and repeat screening regularly.
Order Your Colon Cancer Diagnostic Test Online
When ordering your FIT test to screen for colorectal cancer, pay attention to its quality and data protection protocols. eDrugstore offers at-home tests from MyLabBox as a reliable and safe option.
The manufacturer works with the best labs and uses strict web security standards to protect your sensitive data. Free two-day shipping and doctor’s consultation for positive results are included in the price. Order your colon cancer screening kit here.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.