As you age, the day will come when your doctor recommends a colonoscopy to look for polyps and screen for colon cancer. It’s a part of life we all must face, but the thought of it makes some people uncomfortable. This is why our doctors at AllCare Family Medicine and Urgent Care in Atlanta provide Cologuard as an alternative to a colonoscopy for many of our patients.
Colon cancer screening
Screening for colon cancer usually starts around age 50 for people with few risk factors and goes up to age 75. If you’re older, ask your doctor what’s best. Sometimes, a colonoscopy is still recommended. People who should get a traditional colonoscopy are:
- Those with a family history of polyps or colon cancer
- People with previous polyps or cancer cells
When caught early, colon cancer is highly treatable, and the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular colon cancer screenings beginning at age 50. The frequency of these screenings is best determined by your doctor and is based on your health history. For example, if you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you may need to be screened more frequently than someone without these inflammatory bowel conditions.
What is Cologuard?
For those who dread the thought of having a colonoscopy, Cologuard is a noninvasive alternative that can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. You don’t have to prepare for it or clean out your colon before taking it, like you do when having a colonoscopy. You simply use the collection kit to gather some of your stool and send it in for testing.
The laboratory technicians look for DNA cell changes that are linked to cancer, and whether there’s blood in your stool. We’ll get the results in about two weeks and share them with you.
Cologuard results may give you a false positive, meaning it shows signs of colon cancer when you don’t have it. Or, it could also give you a false negative, meaning it may show no signs of cancer when there’s actually a problem. If you test positive, you’ll need further tests, like a colonoscopy, to confirm a diagnosis of colon cancer.
Overall, Cologuard is considered a reliable test, and it’s approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s also covered by Medicare and many health insurance companies. So, if you’re looking for a noninvasive, medication-free way to test for colon cancer, Cologuard is the answer.
To make an appointment for a wellness exam or annual checkup, or if you find blood in your stool, make an appointment with one of our caring and experienced doctors at AllCare Family Medicine and Urgent Care in Atlanta.