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Facts & Myths

Knowing 100% is better.

Colon cancer screening is important for those with a family history of colon cancer or anyone aged 50 or older. There are several different testing options available, but your best bet is the most effective one: the colonoscopy.

What is a colonoscopy?

During this procedure, your doctor examines your colon lining, looking for polyps or other abnormalities via a small high-definition camera attached to a thin, flexible tube. It generally takes about half an hour. With sedation, you’ll probably not be aware of anything that happens during the procedure.

What are the advantages of colonoscopies?

Colonoscopies are the only kind of test that examines the entire colon and the only test that can actually remove the polyps. Any polyps found during your colonoscopy will be immediately removed and sent to the lab for biopsy.

What are the disadvantages of colonoscopies?

Dietary restrictions the day before the procedure and the bowel prep the evening before are often considered unpleasant. You will be restricted to a clear liquid diet prior to your exam, and you’ll need to drink a laxative preparation designed to clear your colon before your test. However, this is a necessary step to make sure the physician can clearly see all portions of your colon without obstruction.

What is a virtual colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy utilizes a CT scan of the colon and rectum. During this procedure, the colon is filled with air via a catheter inserted in the rectum. This provides a clearer view so the scan can produce cross-sectional images of the colon and rectum. A doctor will examine these images to look for abnormalities or irregularities.

What are the advantages of a virtual colonoscopy?

This procedure usually lasts only about 10 to 15 minutes and is less invasive than a colonoscopy. It does not require sedation.

What are the disadvantages of a virtual colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy requires the most difficult part of preparing for a real colonoscopy, because it involves the same dietary changes and bowel prep as a full colonoscopy. However, it may not detect smaller polyps and cancer, so you cannot know for sure your colon is clear. When polyps are found by this procedure, they cannot be removed during this exam, so at that point an actual colonoscopy will need to be performed. Also, the CT scan exposes you to radiation.

What is a Fecal Immunochemical Test?

The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a simple lab test that examines stool samples for traces of blood.

What are the advantages of a FIT?

You can complete the stool collection in the privacy of your own home using a kit provided by your doctor’s office. There is no need for dietary restrictions or the bowel prep. Many people enjoy the convenience of the FIT test because it does not require sedation or an appointment at a medical facility.

What are the disadvantages of a FIT?

The FIT may fail to detect polyps and cancers. It may detect pre-cancerous cells. If blood is found in the stool, further testing may be required to determine the source.

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy and a colonoscopy are actually quite similar. The main difference is that a flexible sigmoidoscopy only examines the lower part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. The procedure involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the rectum so the colon lining can be viewed. If abnormalities are detected, tissue samples can be collected for biopsy.

What are the advantages of a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

You will likely not require sedation, and the bowel prep may be easier to tolerate.

What are the disadvantages of a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

The main disadvantage of flexible sigmoidoscopy is that it is less thorough than a colonoscopy. Only the lower part of the colon is examined, so abnormalities in the upper section of the colon will go undetected.

What is a Cologuard test?

Cologuard is an at-home, prescription-only stool test that screens for DNA mutations and red blood cells that may indicate colon cancer. The test is not approved for those who are classified as high-risk.

What are the advantages of Cologuard?

This test does not require any dietary restrictions, bowel prep or invasive examinations. As with the FIT test, the collection takes place in the privacy of your own home.

What are the disadvantages of Cologuard?

Patients who test positive on a Cologuard test will need to follow up with a colonoscopy, according to the manufacturer. If a colonoscopy is needed, it will be treated as a non-screening (diagnostic) test and may not be fully covered by some insurance plans.

What is the right option?

When you consider all the options, the advantages of colonoscopy are clear. It is the only test that examines the entire colon and can both detect and remove colon polyps during the procedure. No other follow-up procedure will be required; the colonoscopy provides the final answer.

Knowing is better. The whole point of cancer screening is to know, with as high a certainty as possible, whether cancerous or precancerous conditions are present. Colonoscopy presents an added plus not present in most cancer screenings: It does not just find the problem, but treats it at the same time.

Are there insurance reasons to choose a colonoscopy over another test?

Depending upon your insurance, there could be. If a lesser test determines a need for a colonoscopy to confirm or treat polyps or cancer, the colonoscopy cost may be reimbursed at a lower rate, as it may then be classified as “diagnostic” rather than as a “screening” procedure. All first-time screening colonoscopies are by law covered 100 percent.

How can I get the gold standard test for colon cancer?

Contact Central Illinois Endoscopy for an appointment today!