If you're getting older, your doctor might talk to you about colon cancer screening. The screening test you take depends on your age, medical history, and family history of colon cancer. The frequency you have colon cancer screening depends on the same factors as well as your previous screening results. Stool tests are fairly common, and these can be done in the privacy of your home. You might have one of these yearly or every few years followed by a colonoscopy test, though this is conducted less often. Here are the three types of stool tests used for colon cancer screening.
The Types Of Colon Cancer Screening Stool Tests
Your doctor might want you to take a fecal immunochemical test, fecal occult blood, or a stool DNA test. Each of these tests looks for blood in the stool sample you send. Blood is often an indicator of polyps or cancer in your colon. The tests can detect blood, even if you don't see it with your own eyes. The stool DNA lab test also checks for DNA markers that could indicate cancer is growing in your colon. The stool samples for these tests are taken privately in your own bathroom, so this type of cancer screening is easy to do.
The Kits Contain All That's Needed
Your doctor gives you a kit for the specific colon cancer screening test you're going to take. The kit contains the tools you need to collect a stool sample and a mailing envelope so you can send the kit right to the lab when you're finished. The tests also come with complete instructions that are easy to follow.
The fecal immunochemical and stool DNA kits come with paper that you float on the toilet water when you're ready to have a bowel movement. This makes it easy to reach your stools when you need to scrape them with a stick to collect feces to put in the vial or smear on a card to obtain your sample. The occult blood test requires three samples. You'll take each sample from a different bowel movement and place them on cards that you mail to the lab. Your doctor might also give you a list of foods to avoid before you obtain your sample so you don't get a false positive.
Positive Test Results May Require A Follow-Up Colonoscopy
It will probably take a few days to get the results of your test. If your results are positive and show blood or DNA, your doctor might want you to have a colonoscopy to examine your colon more closely. A colonoscopy involves looking inside your colon with a light and video camera, so it's much more thorough and a good way to get more information about your positive screening results.
For more information about the colon cancer screening process, reach out to a local clinic.