Newer guidelines recommend all adults can start screening for colon cancer at the age of 45, or younger if there is a strong family history of colon cancer. Colonoscopy is one of our best tools to screen for and prevent cancer – accurate, reliable and efficient. Colonoscopy can find and remove pre-cancerous tumors before they become a problem – and usually there’s no discomfort during the procedure.
Stool testing is another option for colon cancer screening that is less invasive, expensive and time consuming. Patients often ask me for my thoughts on Cologuard. While it is a good test, I recommend colonoscopy over Cologuard because colonoscopy can more reliably identify pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions. That said, Cologuard is a great option for some people and it does have better accuracy than those sets of stool cards from the past. One issue I come across with Cologuard is if the test is positive, a colonoscopy is needed to investigate the cause of the positive test. But when a colonoscopy is ordered for a positive Cologuard result, the test is no longer considered a “screening test” and thus not 100% covered by most insurance plans.
Which test is best for you? Talk to your doctor about your health, wishes, concerns and family history to pick the best option.