Is an at-home colorectal cancer screening right for you?
When it comes to screening for colorectal cancer, many people think the only option is a colonoscopy. But depending on a person’s risk factors, that may not be the case.
Through a simple, noninvasive, at-home stool test, individuals can collect a fecal sample and send it to a laboratory for testing.
Dr. Nadia Huq, a gastroenterologist at Aurora Medical Center – Washington County, says while screening of any kind is critical for individuals 45 years and older, at-home testing is only appropriate for those who are considered to be at average risk of developing colorectal cancer.
“For those high-risk individuals, such as patients with a family history of colorectal cancer or those with certain health conditions, colonoscopy is still considered the ‘gold standard.’”
Dr. Huq emphasizes the importance of regular screening.
“Colorectal cancer is sometimes referred to as a ‘silent killer’ because symptoms often don’t appear until the disease is in an advanced stage, which can make it more difficult to treat,” she explains.
When caught early, the five-year colorectal cancer survival rate is 90%, according to the American Cancer Society.
In addition to regular screening, Dr. Huq offers the following tips to keep your colon as healthy as possible:
- Improve your diet: Increase your fiber intake and eat a well-rounded diet complete with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Know your risk: Certain precancerous conditions can increase your likelihood of developing colorectal cancer, including your age, weight and family history.
- Exercise: Stay active in ways that are appropriate for you.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Both alcohol and smoking have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.
Talk with your doctor to determine if an at-home stool test might be right for you, and learn your risk for colorectal cancer by taking our colorectal health assessment.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.
When I hear the test at home commercials I think, “Why not just do the real thing and get a true result. If everything is alright you only have to do it every ten years anyway.