In Summary: Colon Cancer Screening
Over the last five weeks, we have covered quite a bit of ground related to colon cancer screening, the various tests that are available, and how easy it is to get screened.
Colon cancer is a highly preventable disease because it forms from polyps which can be removed before they can even become cancer. If it turns out that a polyp is cancerous, screening helps to catch it in its earliest stage, when it is most treatable.
There is a difference between cancer prevention and cancer detection tests. As mentioned, through screening colonoscopy, cancer can be prevented by removing polyps as soon as they are found. It can also be detected in polyps that are cancerous. At-home tests such as Cologuard® only detect abnormalities; and if there are positive results from an at-home test, a colonoscopy is needed anyway.
The colonoscopy procedure is the gold standard when it comes to colon cancer screening. The procedure itself is pretty short, only about 30 minutes. Yes, you have to prep (we know it isn't the most fun thing to do), but preps have come a long way - there are many that are much more gentle and more tolerable. Plus, you get to reward yourself after the procedure, with a little "R&R" and your favorite foods!
At-home colon cancer tests certainly can be the right test for some, but when compared to colonoscopy, they simply aren't as comprehensive, particularly when it comes to preventing colon cancer. Again, colonoscopy is the gold standard.
At the end of the day, we have heard a lot of reasons why people don't want to have a colonoscopy. When compared to the possibility that you will have to undergo colon cancer treatment - the pain and expense - there really isn't any reason not to get screened.
We are coming into the new year, so there is no better time to invest in your health and longevity. Contact your PCP or our office to learn more.