Cologuard in the time of COVID:

At the height of the COVID pandemic, age appropriate cancer screening (including colon cancer screening) was delayed for many patients.  As states begin to reopen and cancer screening resumes, it is important that patients continue life-saving screening. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US and affects people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Symptoms of colon cancer include blood in stool, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, anemia or weight loss.  However, colon cancers don’t always cause symptoms.  Colon cancer screening is essential because it can detect pre-cancerous polyps and early cancers before they may cause symptoms. People who are diagnosed with cancers at early stages have a greater chance of cure and survival. For most people, colon cancer screening should begin between the ages of 45-50.  While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening, there are several other options for screening which include at home stool tests. Cologuard (FIT-DNA test) is one type of stool test available. It detects blood and DNA markers that may indicate the presence of colorectal cancer or premalignant lesions called polyps.  Patients are provided with a collection kit to mail in a sample of stool for analysis. If the test is negative, it is usually repeated in 3 years for screening purposes. If the test is positive, patients are then recommended for colonoscopy to look for cancers and polyps.  The benefit of a stool-based test is that it can be done at home without the need for dietary changes, laxative preparation, sedation and time away from home or work.  The drawbacks of stool testing include the risk of a false positive result and a lower sensitivity for some premalignant polyps as compared with colonoscopy. Stool testing should only be used for colon cancer screening in average risk patients who are asymptomatic and is not indicated for patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, a family history of colon cancer or a personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer. While there are several options for colon cancer screening, the best test is the one that gets done.  If you have a positive Cologuard test and would like an expedited evaluation or if you would like to talk to our doctors about which test is right for you, please contact us to schedule an appointment. You can book an appointment by calling 212-794-0240 or scheduling online https://bit.ly/2Y20rQc    

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