Tag Archives: colon cancer screening

Why Cologuard might not be a good alternative to a colonoscopy

If you’re over the age of 50, the chances are that your gastroenterologist has encouraged you to get screened for colon cancer. Though the introduction of a new home screening test called Cologuard makes it easy to test yourself noninvasively, a colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colon cancer and precancerous polyps. This is because a colonoscopy uses a camera-scope to search the large and small bowels of your digestive system, and allows doctors to perform biopsies as soon as they spot cancerous lesions. 

How does Cologuard work?

Cologuard is an at-home stool sample test that detects DNA mutations and blood in the stool that could be signs of colon cancer or precancer. DNA constantly sheds from the cells in your intestinal lining so that stool samples can show either healthy or cancerous and precancerous DNA. 

However, though Cologuard is much less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy, it comes with its downsides. It only detects 92% of colon cancers and 42% of precancerous polyps. On the other hand, a colonoscopy can detect 95% of both cancers and polyps. 

Also, Cologuard gave 13% of its users a false positive, meaning the data showed that they showed signs of colon cancer, but after further testing, it was determined that they didn’t. This places an unnecessary emotional and financial burden on Cologuard users who believe they have colon cancer. Often, their treatment is not covered by insurance, and they must pay for further screenings and doctor’s visits out of pocket. 

Conversely, 8% of Cologuard users were told they did not have colon cancer, when in fact they did. This unnecessarily delayed the life-saving treatment they could have received.

One other downside of opting for Cologuard instead of a colonoscopy is that you will need to get one every three years. Patients who get screened with a colonoscopy only need them every ten years. 

Speak with a Specialist at GastroCare LI Today

GastroCare LI provides gastrointestinal screenings such as colonoscopies, lactose intolerance screenings, and capsule endoscopies. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced New York gastroenterologists by calling (516) 265-7049 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.