Colorectal Cancer Screening 101
What is Colorectal Cancer Screening?
In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from abnormal growths known as polyps in the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer screening tests are done to help find polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Regular screening to prevent colorectal cancer should begin in healthy adults at the age of 45. However, sometimes screening should be started before then, as in cases where a family member has had colorectal cancer, you have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you are African American or you have a genetic syndrome.
There are several colorectal cancer screening options, including the following.
Colonoscopy at South Denver GI
This is the only tier one screening test, and is the best way to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy will detect abnormalities or changes in the colon and rectum. During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube with a camera attached called a colonoscope is inserted through the rectum to view the entire colon and large intestine. If needed, abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during this exam. In healthy adults, a colonoscopy should be done every 10 years, and more frequently if you have risk factors or a history of polyps or cancer.
This procedure is used to assess the lower part of the colon and rectum. During this exam, a thin, flexible tube with a small video camera attached (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the rectum. If needed, tissue samples may be taken through the scope. In healthy or average-risk adults, a flexible sigmoidoscopy should be performed every 5 years, although colonoscopy is the better test to screen for polyps and prevent cancer.
There is a selection of different stool tests that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer near Denver, Colorado. The first is the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), which uses a chemical called guaiac to detect blood in the stool. The next stool DNA test is the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool.
The last test is the FIT-DNA test (Cologuard®), which combines the FIT method with a test that detects DNA that has changed in the stool. None of the tests that utilize stool samples are very effective in detecting colorectal polyps, may be falsely positive, and also may miss colorectal cancers. A positive stool test will lead to a colonoscopy as the next step.
Is cologuard as good as a colonoscopy?
Any screening is better than no screening at all. But while Cologuard and other stool-based screening tests get a lot of attention, they are not as effective as colonoscopy screening. Cologuard is a do-it-yourself DNA test that you can mail-in to detect some colon cancers. However, this test can only detect cancers after they have already developed. A colonoscopy is an effective way to prevent colon cancer by removing polyps before they can become cancerous. A colonoscopy is the only tier-one test available to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. During this procedure, polyps are removed before they can become cancerous.
How often should you use cologuard?
A Cologuard test should be done every three years.
Can I order Cologuard myself?
No. Cologuard requires a prescription from your doctor.
Does a positive cologuard mean cancer?
If your Cologuard test comes back with a positive result, it may mean that the test detected some pre-cancer or cancer cells in your stool sample. However, you will need further testing in order to diagnose cancer.
How much does cologuard cost?
The cost of Cologuard is around $500. Part of that cost may be covered by some insurances.
Who owns Cologuard?
Cologuard is owned by Exact Sciences Corp, which is a molecular diagnostics company specializing in the detection of early-stage cancers.
Is cologuard better than fit test?
While Cologuard can detect 92% of cancers, the FIT test only detects 74% of cancers. However, Cologuard can only detect 42% of large precancerous polyps. Overall, each test has its own benefits and weaknesses. It is best to discuss which option is best for you with your doctor.
What does a positive cologuard result mean?
If you have a positive Cologuard result, it means that pre-cancerous or cancerous cells have been detected. For next steps, your doctor will probably want you to undergo further testing, including a colonoscopy.
Can hemorrhoids cause positive cologuard?
Yes. If you have any condition that could cause blood to show in your stool, including hemorrhoids, it may cause a positive Cologuard result.
How do I get Cologuard?
In order to request Cologuard, you must make an appointment with your doctor. They can then give you a prescription for the test.
Professional and respectful from the get-go. Very efficient systems in place, courteous admin staff and extremely helpful and caring nursing staff. No one likes to have these tests, but this is a good place to be if you have to have them.Read All Reviews
The front staff was immediately attentive as soon as I walked in. The nurses and PAs were professional and very nice, and the doctors were even better. The procedure went smoothly and could not have gone better. Of course, having positive lab results makes it easier to post a glowing report but I got the impression that if I had been diagnosed differently, they would have taken care of me with the same kindness and dedication.Read All Reviews
My experience with South Denver GI has been outstanding. Everyone I have met on the staff is exceptionally professional with tremendous people skills. Top-notch practice that I would unequivocally recommend to anyone.Read All Reviews
Following Colorectal Cancer Screening
Following your colorectal cancer screening test, you will be taken to a recovery room. Your doctor will then speak with you regarding the results of your test. You may feel bloated or pass more gas than usual for a while after the exam, which is normal. You will need someone to drive you home following your test. There is no downtime required unless specified by your doctor, so you can return to normal activities as soon as you would like.
How Do I Prepare for My Screening Procedure?
Prior to a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, there are some steps you must take to prepare. Your doctor will provide you with specific preparation instructions, which may be similar to the following:
The day before your procedure, you may need to limit drinks to clear liquids. You may also be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your test.
You will need to empty your colon before your test so that your doctor can see clearly into your colon. To do this, you may have to take a laxative or use an enema kit.
Your doctor may have you adjust your medication dosages or temporarily stop taking certain medications for your test.
Your South Denver GI Team
Patients who are experiencing the symptoms associated with colorectal cancer should schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at South Denver GI. Our team of physicians and advanced practice professionals will work closely with you to determine the best plan of action, including screening or treatment.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevention or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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