Cologuard Test vs Colonoscopy

Reviewed on 3/4/2021

What is the Cologuard test?

Cologuard is the recently Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved stool deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) screening test for detecting colon cancer. The Colorguard test is different from a colonoscopy because you can do it at home and you do not need to prepare by fasting or discontinuing medications before or after the test.
Cologuard is the recently Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved stool deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) screening test for detecting colon cancer. The Colorguard test is different from a colonoscopy because you can do it at home and you do not need to prepare by fasting or discontinuing medications before or after the test.

Cologuard is the recently Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved stool deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) screening test for detecting colon cancer. Your stool contains cells shed from the large intestine (colon). The test looks for changes in the DNA (cellular gene code) in these cells. It can detect the presence of colon cancer or precancerous polyps in your colon by identifying specific changes in your stool DNA.

Cologuard is becoming the most sought-after screening test for colon cancer and polyps. It is a noninvasive test that can be performed at home conveniently as compared to a traditional colonoscopy test. People have started thinking of the test as an option for colonoscopy. 

How do you perform the Cologuard test at home?

To perform the Cologuard test, you first need to fill out the form on the official Cologuard website. They will direct you to a doctor who may or may not prescribe you the test based on your history. You can also get the prescription for the test from your primary physician.

The test kit contains

  • A container that you can attach to the toilet for collecting stool.
  • A tube to collect the stool sample.
  • A preservation solution to put in the stool sample.

Once you collect the stool sample in the tube and add the preservation solution to it, you will close the tube tightly and submit to your physician’s office or mail it to the designated laboratory.

What are the advantages of the Cologuard test?

The benefits that make the Cologuard test so popular include

  • You can perform the test at home. Your waiting time at the hospital and for the actual screening test is reduced.
  • Your doctor may hold off  on a colonoscopy for you if the Cologuard test comes back negative. 
  • You do not need to prepare specifically for the Cologuard test. You do not need to fast or discontinue any medications before or after the test.

Cologuard test vs colonoscopy

But before you decide to forego a colonoscopy and opt for a Cologuard test, there are some reasons why colonoscopy remains the best test for colon cancer or polyps.

 Cologuard test    Colonoscopy  
It is a noninvasive test. It is an invasive test.
The test can be performed at home. The test can be performed only at the hospital.
There is no need to prepare for the procedure. You need to fast and discontinue certain medications before the procedure.
There is no chance of complications. There is a risk of complications such as problems due to anesthesia or sedative medications and bowel injury.
There are chances of getting *false-negative results and *false-positive results (12 percent chance). The test is far more accurate than the Cologuard test in detecting polyps and cancerous lesions in the colon.
The test can only detect colon cancer and cannot in any way prevent it. The doctor can remove the potential cancerous masses if detected during the colonoscopy.
Large polyps can often be missed. Any polyp can be identified.

*False-negative result: The test may come back negative even if there are precancerous lesions or polyps in the colon. False-positive result: The test may come back positive even if you do not have precancerous lesions or polyps in the colon.

The Cologuard test is a potential first-line screening test for cancer. If it is positive, your doctor will ask you to undergo a colonoscopy. If the test is negative, your doctor will discuss the various options for you, which include whether you should have a colonoscopy or not.

QUESTION

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

Colorguard Patient Guide


Gastroenterology & Hepatology


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