Like the fecal occult blood tests, Cologuard checks for microscopic amounts of blood in stool. But the new test also looks for abnormal DNA. This helps to find cancers that don’t bleed. The test is done at home by collecting a stool sample and mailing it to a laboratory for analysis.
A stool DNA test is a relatively new approach for colon cancer screening. Instead of looking for blood in the stool (like FIT or guiac FOBT), these tests look for certain DNA mutations caused from cancerous tumors or precancerous polyps. Cells from precancerous and cancerous lesions with these mutations are often shed into the stool, where these tests may be able to detect them, therefore indicating the presence of precancerous polyps or colon cancer.
Because DNA mutations may differ between colon cancers, stool DNA tests typically target multiple markers to achieve high detection rates. Also, because DNA markers may be present in only trace quantities in stool, very sensitive laboratory methods are required. The new stool DNA tests demonstrate high detection rates of early-stage colon cancer. Unlike other noninvasive tests, the new stool DNA tests also can detect precancerous polyps.
In August 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Cologuard, the first stool-based colon screening test that detects the presence of blood and altered DNA that may indicate certain kinds of abnormal growths related to colon cancer or precursors to cancer. In a study of 10,000 people of average risk for colon cancer, Cologuard reportedly was able to accurately detect cancer 92% of the time when it was present in an individual’s body. Learn more about this screening method.
For more information about sDNA, please call the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Toll-free Helpline at (877) 422-2030.
- You take this test in the privacy of your own home.
- Greater accuracy than FIT
- If any abnormalities are detected, you will need to have a colonoscopy performed.
- More expensive than FIT
What can I expect for a bill?
The maximum out of pocket expense for Cologuard is $599.
Will my insurance cover it?
This test is approved for coverage through Medicare and Medicaid. Some private insurance companies also may cover the cost of this test.
No prep needed! You can maintain your normal diet and medications.
In the privacy of your own home, you’ll collect a stool sample utilizing a kit that is provided to you. Once you collect the sample, you’ll package it in a prepaid, preaddressed box. From there, the package will be shipped via UPS to the Exact Science Laboratory.
How often (if not high risk)
Once every three years – discuss this with your healthcare professional