FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Cologuard, a non-invasive screening test for colon cancer, is an option for people who do not want to undergo a colonoscopy.
It’s an alternative for the more than 20 million in the target age group, who do not get screened at all. It’s recommended people get screened for colon cancer starting at the age of 50.
Dr. Strick Woods of Gastroenterology Associates of Fairfield County says a colonoscopy is still the gold standard.
“We found we reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by almost 50-percent and in a most recent study, almost 60-percent,” said Woods.
“There are still a significant amount of people that are reluctant or afraid or for a myriad of reasons, not willing to undergo a colonoscopy,” added Woods.
Now there’s a viable option the FDA approved last year: a stool DNA colon cancer test, highly effective in detecting early-stage cancer.
“Those people that test positive for it and have cancer or a large polyp is 92- to 93-percent,” said Dr. Woods. “It’s a very sensitive test.”
It starts with a kit that collects a stool sample at home, which is then sent off to be analyzed.
“When you have polyps and/or cancer developing in your colon, they release different types of DNA that are associated with the cancer and or polyp development and these are picked up in this special analysis that is done in the labs,” said Dr. Woods.
Still, the false-positive rate for this non-invasive approach is at 13-percent.
“Hopefully when a patient decides to opt for this means of screening, they fully appreciate the fact that this is not 100-percent, number one,” said Dr. Woods. “Number two, you need to be prepared to address the findings.”
A positive finding is followed by a recommended colonoscopy.
Dr. Woods has already prescribed the test to six patients, with one testing positive for colon cancer at a curable stage.
This test is recommended for people with an average risk for colon cancer, and must be prescribed by your doctor. The cost is $599. Medicare does cover it, but it is still not covered by private insurers.
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