Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. The number of deaths due to colon cancer can easily be prevented as colon cancer is a slow-progressing type of cancer, which takes years to develop into a malignant form. During these years, the cancer can easily be prevented by removing the polyps from the colon. All this can be achieved via regular screening for colorectal cancer. The most recommended form of screening is a colonoscopy. Therefore, most health care providers prescribe colonoscopies to patients over 50 years of age. However, this does have a downside to it as well. First, the unpleasantness of the procedure for colonoscopy makes people unwilling to undergo it. Also, the procedure is an invasive one where a tube is passed through the patient’s colon to check for polyps. Apart from the procedure being invasive and unpleasant, another reason why people tend to avoid it is the huge cost involved.
Thankfully, there are now several alternatives to the colonoscopy that can be resorted to for screening against colon cancer and checking for the presence of colon polyps. One such screening alternative is the use of the colon-guard.
What is a colon-guard?
A colon-guard is an at-home stool test kit that checks for the presence of genetic markers indicating the presence of cancer or precancerous growths. The kit performs two tests—one is to analyze the stool sample for changes in the DNA and another is for checking the presence of blood in the stool sample. Essentially, the kit consists of a small bucket along with a sample container to collect the stool sample. Plus, a separate tube is also provided in the kit to collect samples for testing the presence of blood. After taking the samples, the patient can hand them to a laboratory for further testing. These kits are available only on a doctor’s prescription.
How is the colon-guard an alternative to regular screening?
A colon-guard has a few positive points, making it a more favorable option compared to a colonoscopy.
- A colonoscopy requires patients to fast and to have a distasteful liquid laxative the night before the procedure. Thus, the dietary restrictions, preparation, and medication before a colonoscopy are all eliminated when using a colon-guard for screening. The discomfort and unpleasantness of a colonoscopy is replaced with the ease of a colon-guard kit.
- The cost is significantly reduced as compared to a colonoscopy procedure. A colonoscopy procedure requires hospitalization and the patient is usually sedated while the doctors insert the camera-attached tube into the colon to look for polyps. The visit to the hospital is also eliminated when using the colon-guard.
- Also, patients who are perhaps too old to be undergoing a colonoscopy or for whom the procedure might be a greater risk can do the screening via the colon-guard.
- Further, the colon-guard is easy to use.
The only drawback is that the colon-guard is not recommended for patients who have a history of cancer, or if they are under 50 years of age or have other risk factors.