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Stool DNA


The stool DNA test is a relatively new approach for colon cancer screening. Like the fecal occult blood test, the stool DNA Test detects microscopic amounts of blood in stool, but it also looks for certain DNA changes and mutations found in cancerous tumors or precancerous polyps. Cells from precancerous and cancerous lesions with these mutations often shed DNA biomarkers into the stool, where this test can detect them, therefore indicating the presence of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. The test is done at home by collecting a stool sample and mailing it to a laboratory for analysis.

Because DNA changes and mutations may differ between colon cancers, the stool DNA test targets multiple DNA markers to achieve high detection rates. Also, because DNA markers may be present in only trace quantities in stool, very sensitive laboratory methods are used to detect the markers. The stool DNA test demonstrates high detection rates of early-stage colon cancer.

In August 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Cologuard, the first stool-based DNA colon cancer screening test. Since then, the screening test was included as a preferred screening option by the United States Preventive Services Task Force in its most updated 2016 guidelines.  Learn more about this screening method.

For more information about the stool DNA test, please call the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s free helpline at (877) 422-2030.

Advantages

Test is taken in the privacy of your own home.

No prep required; no dietary restrictions or changes to medications necessary.

Greater accuracy than FIT.

Disadvantages

If any abnormalities are detected, a follow up colonoscopy is necessary.

More expensive than FIT if the test is not covered by insurance.

What can I expect for a bill?

The maximum out of pocket expense for Cologuard is $649.

Will my insurance cover it?

This test is approved for coverage through Medicare and Medicaid.

Private insurance companies may also cover the cost of this test.

The prep

No prep needed! You can maintain your normal diet and medications.

The procedure

After your healthcare provider prescribes a stool DNA test, you’ll receive a sample collection kit in the mail. 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, pre-addressed box. From there, the package will be shipped via UPS to the laboratory.

How often (if not high risk)

Every three years, but be sure to discuss this with your healthcare professional.

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