At-Home Colon Cancer Screening: What You Need To Know

One of the most common and effective tests for colon cancer is a colonoscopy. However, there are other tests available that you can choose. At-home colon cancer screening tests are an option to consider, but you may be curious about their effectiveness and reliability. The following are some things you need to know about at-home colon cancer screening tests:

How Does an At-Home Test Work?

There are different types of at-home colon cancer screening tests. A fecal occult blood test uses a chemical to look for blood in the stool that is not visible just by sight. You will provide three separate swab samples from different bowel movements. With this test, your doctor will give you a few restrictions, such as temporarily going off your medications and not eating after a certain point. The kit will provide you with the materials to collect the samples before you send them to the lab.

A fecal immunochemical test is another option that detects blood in the stool but uses different antibodies to detect the blood. You only have to provide one sample. Unlike fecal occult blood testing, you can continue to take your medications and you do not have to stop eating after a certain period.

A stool DNA test checks your stool for any DNA that you may have consistent with cancerous colon cells. Cancer cells leave the colon with a bowel movement and will collect in the stool. The collection process is different, in that you have to send in an entire bowel movement instead of a swab.

When Do You Get the Test Results?

Once you send in the sample for your chosen test, you will have to wait for the results. The information regarding your results and when they will arrive will be in your test instructions. If your doctor prescribed the test, they would likely get the results first. If you ordered the test yourself, you would receive the results.

What If the Test Is Positive?

If your at-home test is positive for cancer cells, you need to contact your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy. Your doctor can discuss the results of your test with you and answer any questions you may have. It is possible that your doctor will want you to have additional testing to confirm the results of the at-home test.

Should You Use an At-Home Colon Cancer Screening Test?

Whether or not you want to take an at-home test is solely your decision. The test may give you some peace of mind before you have to take the plunge and get a colonoscopy. The at-home tests are particularly helpful for those who have a history of polyps or with a family history of colon cancer. They are also helpful for those with inflammatory bowel disease.