What is the Best Colon Cancer Screening Method?
Colon cancer screening is essential for everyone—even you. Recommendations for when to get screened vary depending on your risk factors, but colon cancer is not just an “old person’s disease” anymore. US guidelines recommend that all adults over 50, African Americans over 45, or anyone with a family history of colon cancer get screened on a routine basis. Colon cancer rates in the 20-49 age group are on the rise, meaning if you notice symptoms, you need to get screened. But what is the best colon cancer screening method?
Naturally, you want a thorough, accurate screening. But it needs to suit your budget, too. There are two primary screening options that most people consider for assessing colon cancer risk: at-home screening kits and screening colonoscopies.
Five Facts about a Screening Colonoscopy
- Affordable: screening colonoscopies are covered by the majority of health insurance plans and it’s possible to get an affordable, high-quality procedure at independent ambulatory surgery centers, which typically charge a fraction of hospital or hospital-affiliated center fees.
- Accurate: It is far more accurate than an at-home screening kit.
- Thorough and specific: a colonoscopy can detect and identify early and advanced colon cancer, as well as other digestive conditions and diseases.
- Preventive as well as diagnostic: often, polyps can be removed during the procedure, eliminating the risk of developing colon cancer.
- In your control: You can ensure you get a high-quality colonoscopy by:
- choosing a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist with an above-average adenoma detection rate (ADR).
- selecting high-quality surgery centers with AAAHC and CMS certifications (industry-leading certifications for the safety and quality of ambulatory surgery centers).
Five Facts about At-Home Colon Cancer Screening Kits
- Convenient: there’s no need to leave home. You can use the kit in the privacy of your own bathroom.
- Limited: only 92% of colon cancers and only 42% of potentially precancerous adenomas are detected, which compares unfavorably with a colonoscopy. There’s also no built-in option for early preventive treatment, as there is with a colonoscopy.
- Inaccurate: 13% of consumers will get a false positive.
- Low cost: these kits are often covered by insurance and have a lower “retail price” than a colonoscopy.
- Potentially costly: if the kit returns a positive result, your next step is to see a gastroenterologist and schedule a colonoscopy. As a second screening process, it may not qualify as a preventive health benefit and the cost will be your responsibility.
It’s clear that a colonoscopy could not only ultimately save you money, but save your life too. Doesn’t that make it the obvious choice?