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Screening Types

Screening Types

December 29, 2021
Ray Scott Daugherty, MD
Ray Scott Daugherty, MD

Colon and Rectal Surgery

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There are some new alternatives to screening for colon cancer. One would be the Cologuard screening, which is a newer test where you actually poop into a box and then ship it through UPS to a company to be tested for different tumor markers in your stool. This is a very sensitive and specific test. The patient does have to realize though that if it does come back positive, they will need a colonoscopy for evaluation. Some of the older tests, like what we call fecal occult blood or stool blood tests, are really not very sensitive or specific. And for the most part are not necessarily recommended. There are also CT colonoscopies, which can be performed. Our society or the American Colon Rectal Society do not necessarily endorse CT colonoscopies. They can be used on patients who are difficult to get a colonoscope around, or sometimes we can’t get the colonoscopy all the way to the right side of the colon. We will sometimes send patients for these once they’re already prepped. But it’s not something we necessarily recommend. We have found that CT colonoscopy is not necessarily as sensitive for detecting polyps as a regular colonoscopy. In the past, when we used fecal occult blood cards, we were just looking for potential blood being shed through the stool. Now with Cologuard, we’re actually looking at actual cells and DNA markers that are shed by the actual tumors, and that are then picked up with this test.