Colonoscopy is a procedure that involves introducing a thin, flexible, lighted instrument into the rectum to examine the large intestine (colon) for abnormalities. It is the gold standard for the detection of the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States—colon cancer.
Nonetheless, even with the life-saving benefits of a colonoscopy, many people postpone getting it or avoid it altogether out of fear and embarrassment. Colonoscopy is an invasive procedure that entails intensive preparation, and the lack of knowledge about it tends to fuel the anxiety or fear that most people feel.
If this sounds like you, here are a few alternatives that you can talk to your gastrointestinal (GI) specialist about. These are becoming increasingly popular because they have fairly high detection rates and are either noninvasive or less invasive compared to a colonoscopy.
The Cologuard (Stool DNA Test)
This is a noninvasive, innovative screening method used for detecting abnormal DNA changes in the cells of your stool sample that are indicative of colon polyps and cancer. This test is performed via an at-home kit that comes with a container for the sample of your stool.
Do take note that if your sDNA test returns positive, your GI specialist may still recommend a colonoscopy to thoroughly examine your colon and further investigate the cause.
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) checks for hidden blood in your stool, which may be an early sign of colon cancer.
Like a Cologuard, you can do this test at home. You do not need to skip your medications or meals, as neither can affect the results of the test. A significant advantage of this test is that it has fewer false-positive results.
However, if you test positive, your GI specialist may still order a colonoscopy for further investigation. Blood in stools is not necessarily an indicator of cancer or polyps, as there are also other conditions that can be taken into account, such as hemorrhoids and ulcers. You, therefore, need to let your doctor know if you have anal fissures or hemorrhoids or are menstruating before you submit your sample.
A virtual colonoscopy involves the use of low-dose computed tomography (CT) to examine your colon for indications of cancer.
While CT colonoscopy does need bowel cleansing beforehand, it is less invasive than the traditional colonoscopy, brief, needs no sedation, and produces very clear cross-sectional images of the entire length of your colon.
Colon Cancer Screening Tests in California
If you live in California and need to consult a board-certified GI specialist about colonoscopy or any of the colon cancer screening tests mentioned above, visit us at inSite Digestive Health Care. With a vast network of renowned, highly skilled GI specialists and more than 20 locations, we are the largest gastroenterology practice in the entire state of California.
Please use this locator tool to find our office nearest you. You may also fill out this convenient form to request an appointment. We all look forward to helping you take better care of your colorectal health!