Drs. Gelrud and Echavarria discuss alternative tests to colonoscopy that can be used for early screening of colorectal cancer – flexible sigmoidoscopy and CT colonography (also known as virtual colonoscopy). They also talk about at-home stool tests that look for signs of cancer – guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and stool DNA test. The doctors also briefly talk about capsule endoscopy. The doctors emphasize that alternative tests are not a substitute for a regular colonoscopy. If anything unusual is found during an alternative test, you will need a follow-up colonoscopy to confirm the findings. The main advantage of colonoscopy is that it allows your doctor to both visually detect AND remove colon abnormalities during the same procedure. A popular feature of colonoscopy is that it only needs to be repeated every 10 years if the results are normal. Whereas, the alternative tests need to be repeated more frequently even if the results are normal – some every year, others every 3 to 5 years. Regardless which test you use, the most important thing is to get screened for colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
This educational activity has been developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc. This activity is endorsed by the Colon Cancer Coalition.
This activity is supported by an independent educational grant from Boston Scientific and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their health care professionals for optimal outcomes.