Colonoscopy vs. Cologuard: Which Is Right for You?

Colonoscopy vs. Cologuard: Which Is Right for You?

Picture it: You’re sitting round a campfire, exchanging horror tales and laughing off embellished tales of far-fetched monsters. It appears that nothing can be scary sufficient for this group, till one buddy solemnly begins, “it was the night time earlier than my colonoscopy.”
All too usually, these are the tales that scare individuals into skipping this preventative – and doubtlessly live-saving – screening.
“Only 60 to 70% of individuals thought of to be at common danger for colon most cancers truly get screened,” says gastroenterologist Jeffrey Nestler, MD, Hartford Hospital chief of gastroenterology and medical co-director of the Digestive Health Institute. “So we nonetheless have an extended strategy to go.”
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So what does a colonoscopy do, anyway?
Colorectal most cancers, usually referred to easily as colon most cancers, begins as a polyp. During a colonoscopy, these polyps may be eliminated, and colon most cancers may be prevented. When caught early and handled, the survival fee is 90 %.
Unfortunately, most individuals don’t expertise signs till colon most cancers is superior. By then, the most cancers is more durable to deal with and requires surgical procedure and chemotherapy, so early detection is essential.
“I all the time advocate a colonoscopy as a result of it’s a one-step check,” says Nestler. “You go in, look for polyps or most cancers, and also you take away these polyps or most cancers on the similar time. A colonoscopy is a colon-cancer-prevention check. We discover precancerous polyps and we take them out so that they by no means have an opportunity to show into most cancers.”
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Taking shortcuts
But due to the concern related to colonoscopy prep, many individuals are turning to industrial checks like Cologuard or the fecal immunochemical check (FIT). Done at dwelling, these checks contain accumulating a stool pattern and mailing it to a laboratory for testing. They are lauded as a alternative for having a colonoscopy carried out by a doctor. But does the science maintain up?
Nestler says Cologuard or a FIT check require two steps, and so they aren’t made to detect precancerous polyps. This makes them much less preventive and extra reactive.
The FIT checks for hidden blood within the stool – an early signal of most cancers – however can solely detect blood from the decrease intestines. Cologuard makes use of superior expertise to detect the DNA and blood cells launched from altered cells, and claims to detect each precancer and most cancers.
“Cologuard is 92% delicate for colon most cancers,” Nestler says, “however it’s a lot much less delicate in relation to colon polyps. It can miss precancerous lesions.
“And,” he provides, “in the event you get a optimistic outcome, it’s a must to do a colonoscopy anyway.”
Symptoms to observe for
Although most individuals don’t expertise signs of colon most cancers till it’s superior, there are a couple of key indicators. These embrace signs resembling:

A persistent change in your bowel habits, together with diarrhea or constipation or a change within the consistency of your stool
Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
Persistent stomach discomfort, resembling cramps, fuel or ache
A sense that your bowel doesn’t empty fully
Unexplained weight reduction
Anemia

Getting screened sooner
Even in the event you aren’t experiencing any signs, it is likely to be time to contemplate a colonoscopy. The American Cancer Society now recommends that the typical individual (anybody with no genetic markers or household historical past of colon most cancers or polyps) begins getting colonoscopies by age 45 (it was beforehand 50).
People in these teams could profit from earlier or extra frequent testing:

People of African American or Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
Those with Crohn’s illness or ulcerative colitis.
Anyone with a genetic syndrome resembling familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal most cancers (Lynch syndrome).

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