Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States with 100,000 new cases a year. The American College of Surgeons recommends screening beginning at 45 while the USPTF recommends age 50. If there is a family history of colon cancer at a young age the screening should start on you 10 years before the age they were diagnosed. With early detection there is a 90% survival rate.

The tests used to scxreen for colon cancer are the colonoscopy, the new Cologuard test and the fecal occult blood test.

Cologuard is the easy, noninvasive colon cancer screening test you can use at home. It is the only FDA approved test based on stool DNA science and finds 92% of colon cancers.

Some patients are not good candidates for the Cologuard test who have been diagnosed with a condition that is asscociated with a high risk of colon cancer:

* Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Chron's disease and Ulcerative Colitis

*Family history of colon cancer in immediate family

*Family Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)

*Patients with a hx of colon cancer, adenoimas or other related cancers

*Patients whose families have been diagnosed with hereditary cancer syndromes like Lynch syndrome and others.

Cologuard is safer than colonoscopy as there is no risk of anesthesia or perforation of the bowel that may be seen with colonoscopy. The test cost anywhere from $500 and is covered by most insurances. Check with your carrier to see if you are covered by it must be ordered by a physician. If your test results come back positive and you are referred for colonoscopy there is a 10% chance that it was false positive and there actually was no colon cancer present. Negative test results were 99.4% sure of no cancer. It should be repeated in 3 years.

Cologuard is covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage with no co-pay or deductible for eligible patients only your insurer can confirm if covered for you.

Typically the patients I recommend the test two are those who decline to have colonoscopy. So if we agree on Cologuard the medical office will complete a request form and the order for the test will be sent in. It is only available by prescription. Once ordered it is conveniently sent to your home where you should immediately take the box to the bathroom. There is no required prep or need to stop medications but red meat should be avoided in the diet prior to the test. The kit will come with a prepaid and preaddressed USDP label for return shipping. You may call a number for pickup or send from any UPS location.

Remember to read instructions and remember these recommendations:*Do the test on Monday thru Thursday as the test will be sent to Madison, Wisconsin and must be received in 72 hours after you place your sample in the box. Both provided containers must be labeled.

*Delay doing the test if you have bleeding from hemorrhoids, are menstruating have a cut on your hand, have diarrhea or blood in the urine or stool.

* It is important to follow instructions and put the preservative that is provided in the kit on the sample and apply the enclosed label. One container is also is provided for collection of stool for hemoglobin testing.

Cologuard is NOT for high risk individuals but is a screening option for those at average risk of colon cancer.

Dr. Drake is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a past-president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr Drake has practiced in Somerset since 1984.

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