When Was Your Last Colonoscopy?


Jason Sellers, MD

If you are 45 years old or over, you qualify for colon cancer screening. From FIT tests to colonoscopies, there are several options for routine screening. Let’s find out more about them so you can make an informed decision at your next yearly physical!

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in men and women and affects millions of people every year. However, like breast cancer, it can often be effectively treated if detected early. This is why colon cancer screening plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your health! By identifying precancerous growths or cancerous cells in the colon, screening tests can enable timely intervention, potentially saving your life. The age to start screening recently changed from 50 to 45, so you may be surprised to learn that you qualify. Let’s explore the various types of colon cancer screenings out there.

  1. Colonoscopy

    In the US, the colonoscopy is the gold standard of colon cancer screening. A long, flexible tube with a camera (colonoscopy) is inserted through the rectum, providing a comprehensive examination of the entire colon and allowing the doctor to visualize and remove polyps or abnormal tissues. For average-risk individuals, colonoscopy is generally recommended every 10 years though this interval may be shorter depending on your personal findings and family history. This screening method is highly sensitive and has the advantage of both detection and treatment during the same procedure.

  2. Stool FIT Test

    For patients who are weary of going through a colonoscopy or keep putting it off year after year, I usually recommend a FIT test. This is an easy non-invasive test that you can get from your Radish doctor, complete at home, and send by mail for results. The test detects small amounts of blood in the stool, which may indicate the presence of colon polyps or cancer. The FIT test is done every year, and if it comes back positive, a colonoscopy is recommended. While it is more convenient than a colonoscopy and definitely better than not testing, FIT testing may miss some cases of early-stage cancer, and is therefore slightly less sensitive.

  3. Stool DNA Test (such as Cologuard)

    Stool DNA testing is a relatively new approach to colon cancer screening, involving the analysis of stool samples for specific genetic markers associated with colon cancer. This test can detect both blood and altered DNA in the stool, providing valuable insights into the presence of colon polyps or cancer. It is typically recommended every 3 years, and similar to FIT, if the test comes back positive a colonoscopy is recommended. Stool DNA testing is more sensitive than FIT testing but also tends to have a slightly higher rate of false positives, which means that it may come back positive at a higher rate than other tests even if you don’t have colon cancer.

  4. Other Tests

    There are other tests out there for colon cancer screening, such as flexible sigmoidoscopy and CT colonography, but these tests are oftentimes reserved for patients who cannot undergo the above tests or are interested in alternative testing strategies. If you would like to learn more, consider speaking with your doctor.

Colon cancer screening is a crucial step in maintaining your health. Each screening method has its own advantages and limitations, so it’s important to discuss with your Radish doctor which option is most suitable for you. If you have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors, it’s very important to speak with your doctor to make sure you know when to start screening! In some cases, it may be even earlier than age 45 depending on your personal and family history.

Remember, early detection through regular screening can save your life. Prioritize your well-being and stay proactive in the fight against colon cancer. It’s so easy! Simply chat with your Radish doctor right now to get a FIT test sent directly to your home or learn more about other options for colon cancer screening!

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