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Is there a new test to take for colon cancer?

A:

Quick Answer

Cologuard is an at-home colon cancer test introduced in 2014, reports WebMD. It is more accurate than the fecal occult blood test historically used for colon cancer screening, but it is not a replacement for a colonoscopy.

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Full Answer

The patient receives a collection kit that requires him to provide two stool samples. The kit is then sent to a lab for analysis, explains WebMD. One sample undergoes DNA testing, while the other sample undergoes blood testing. The Cologuard test looks for mutations associated with colorectal cancer in the DNA and blood of the cells present in the stool. Previously, stool tests only checked for the presence of blood in the stool that potentially indicated polyps or cancer.

In FDA testing, Cologuard was more effective in detecting cancers and precancerous growths than the fecal occult blood test, reports WebMD. A patient with a positive Cologuard result must undergo a colonoscopy.

As of 2015, the cost of Cologuard is $599, while the fecal occult blood test costs about $30. Cologuard is not expected to replace the fecal occult blood test; rather, it is an additional option that a doctor may order for high-risk patients between colonoscopies, states WebMD. Guidelines have not yet been established as to how often and under what circumstances Cologuard is to be used.

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