45+ years old ? Here are your Colon Cancer Screening Options

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers and causes of cancer death. It is recommended to initiate colon cancer screening at age 45 years in adults at average risk consistent with US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations.

Colonoscopy and Cologuard are both screening methods for colorectal cancer, but they differ in their approach and methodology. Here is what you need to know about the difference between these to tests.

1. Colonoscopy:

Procedure: It involves the insertion of a flexible tube with a tiny camera (colonoscope) into the rectum and through the entire colon. This allows the doctor to examine the lining of the colon and rectum for abnormalities, such as polyps or tumors.
Preparation: Prior to the procedure, the patient must undergo a thorough bowel preparation, which usually involves a special diet and laxatives to clear the colon of any stool.
Frequency: Typically recommended every 10 years for those at average risk, though frequency may vary based on individual risk factors and findings.
Accuracy: It is considered the gold standard for detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous lesions because it allows for direct visualization and the removal of suspicious growths during the procedure.
Discomfort: It requires sedation and may cause discomfort during and after the procedure. There is a small risk of complications, such as bleeding or perforation of the colon.

2. Cologuard:

Test Method: Cologuard is a non-invasive stool-based DNA test. It detects the presence of altered DNA and blood in the stool, which may indicate the presence of colorectal cancer or precancerous lesions.

Procedure: Patients collect a stool sample at home and send it to a lab for analysis. The test does not require any bowel preparation or dietary restrictions.

Frequency: Typically recommended every three years for those at average risk.

Accuracy: While Cologuard is highly sensitive in detecting colorectal cancer, it may produce false positives, leading to unnecessary follow-up procedures like colonoscopy. It is less effective at detecting small polyps compared to colonoscopy.

Discomfort: Since it’s a non-invasive test, it doesn’t involve any discomfort or risk of complications like colonoscopy.

In summary, colonoscopy is more invasive and requires bowel preparation but is highly accurate and allows for the removal of precancerous lesions during the procedure. Cologuard is less invasive and more convenient but may produce false positives and is less effective at detecting small polyps. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences, risk factors, and discussions with healthcare providers. Schedule a free Discovery Call to learn more about ways we can help!

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