According to a study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer in 2019. One of the worst things someone diagnosed with cancer can hear is that the disease has metastasized to other parts of the body. What they might not have known is that a cancer test could have stopped or slowed this progression. Also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer is highly treatable and even preventable if discovered early. Colonoscopies and at-home colon cancer test kits can go a long way toward making such an early discovery possible.
There are benefits and drawbacks associated with colonoscopies and at-home test kits when testing for colon cancer. To know which is right for you, it helps to know a little more about what they each entail.
Also known as stool tests, at-home test kits can help detect colon cancer early, just like a colonoscopy can. Unlike a colonoscopy, however, the process is far less invasive. That said, there are some drawbacks associated with this type of test. Firstly, they have to be done more frequently than colonoscopies and are recommended every 1 to 3 years. By comparison, the standard recommendation for colonoscopies is every ten years. Second, false negative and false positive test results are not uncommon with at-home test kits. If you have the incorrect diagnosis, this could cause you unnecessary worry (false positive) or prevent you from receiving proper treatment (false negative).
Colonoscopies are ideal for detecting polyps that form in the colon and enabling physicians to remove them before they give way to cancer. However, the preparation, which consists of before the procedure itself can be a turn-off for some people. While not the most enjoyable of experiences, colonoscopies can save lives. This method of testing for colon cancer provides physicians with an unobstructed view of the inside of a patient’s bowels. This makes it considerably easier to detect and remove dangerous polyps and other abnormalities before they become life-threatening, cancerous lesions.
Whether you opt for an at-home test kit or a colonoscopy performed by a licensed physician, both can help lower your chances of developing colon cancer. Which of these options is best will depend on your age, race, genetics, overall health, and several other factors. That said, nearly all physicians agree that testing for colon cancer should begin when individuals are in their 40s or 50s. They further agree that younger individuals should also undergo these tests if they’re experiencing ongoing abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, or other symptoms commonly associated with colon cancer.
If you meet any of these criteria and have not undergone a test for colon cancer, schedule an appointment with Arizona Colorectal Experts today. Our expert medical team can test you for colon cancer and use those results to give you the best possible treatment plan.