Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and third most common male cancer. Screening for polyps, growths, and other abnormalities is a must for early detection and the prevention of cancer spreading. Regular testing is not as common as it should be. Because Most men do want to go through the colonoscopy. Luckily, there are other options for those that need it.
The Colonoscopy Is Not A Simple Procedure, So These Alternatives Are A Blessing To Many Patients
Colonoscopies are invasive and uncomfortable for patients. Not only is the camera tube inserted via the rectum, but patients also require bowel preparation and sedation. It is not an immediate and easy trip to a doctor be any means. This is why the need for new measures was so strong.
The good news is that colon screening measures have improved, even if men are not aware of it yet. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has approved seven colon cancer tests for their method and effectiveness.
Stool-Based Tests For Colon Cancer
Stool-based methods are the most appealing of the two options here. This is simply because they are much cheaper and non-invasive. They are easily carried out, sometimes at home, with minimal prep.
The results can give an indication of signs of colon cancer and alert doctor to a need for further action. Those that see no signs won’t need to worry until it is time for another test. There are three key testing options here.
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT). This may sound like a pretty complicated test, but it is very simple. Users receive a home test kit to use in a stool sample. They place a sample on the test card, which contains guaiac. This card changes color at signs of blood, which could indicate problems. Users take three samples, return the kit to the doctor and wait. The problem is that there are conditions to meet. Users can’t eat red meat, citrus fruit, or take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for three days. The good news is that this basic approach is 62-79% accurate.
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This is a similar approach to blood testing. It tests for reactions to hemoglobin protein, which medics see as slightly more accurate. The other benefit here is no dietary restrictions before use.
- Multitargeted stool DNA test: This is a more comprehensive option with the FIT test plus DNA biomarkers. These tests are better at detecting polyps than FIT alone, but there is also a risk of false positives.
Direct Visualization Tests For Colon Cancer
Direct visualization tests are the screening methods that most men want to avoid where possible. However, there may be the chance that the non-invasive methods above are insufficient. If there are warning signs in the tests above, patients may require one of the following methods.
- Colonoscopy: This is still seen as the most comprehensive option for patients, despite the clear issues. This is preferable for some medical professionals as polyps can be both found and removed. There is still the problem of sedation and preparation, so it is not ideal in the eyes of patients.
- CT colonography: this is a similar approach to the colonoscopy in many ways, as it involves a similar piece of tech. The positive for patients is that it is purely visual, and there is no need for sedation. The downside is that there is no ability to remove growths should doctors find them.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: This is an alternative option to the colonoscopy that is appealing to patients because of its smaller size. The problem here is that it is less effective due to the smaller area, even though it is more flexible.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy with FIT: Finally, there is the above camera tech with the additional screening aid mentioned above. It retains the mechanical issues of the previous model but may improve detection rates.
Patients need to ensure that doctors check them out for colon cancer every 10 years and more often if doctor’s orders require it. This range of approved tests means that there are now more ways to do so. Some may have their flaws regarding efficiency, but they have other benefits for patients. Stool-based testing is improving, camera tech doesn’t have to so invasive, and the colonoscopy doesn’t have to be the first choice.Tags: Colon Cancer, Lab Tests, Tests