Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths in the United States, accounting for over 50,000 cancer cases in the past several years. Although the rate of colon cancer deaths has been on a decline due to improved screening and treatment, statistics show that the risk is still about 1 in 20 that a person will develop the condition. However, a recent review of home based stool testing for colon cancer
indicates that these tests are highly effective for preliminary screening.
Typically, colon cancer screenings are conducted using a variety of tests, including colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and fecal occult blood testing. These tests tend to be more involved and are performed by a physician or laboratory. Recently, tests that can be conducted in the comfort of your own home, called fecal immunochemical tests (FITs), have become a more common method for detecting trace amounts of blood in the stool.
Researchers at the KaiserPermanenteCenter for Health Research reviewed 19 studies regarding the performance of FITs for efficacy. Based on the data reviewed for the study, researchers found that the FITs were accurate about 79% of the time and false positives were prevented about 90% of the time. This is good news because it means that these home tests are effective and fairly accurate.
Many individuals avoid colon cancer screening because of the level of involvement, their fear of procedures, and the costs, in addition to various other reasons. However, experts hope that the ease of these at home tests will encourage more people to get their screenings, and to do them earlier on in life, which will allow for earlier detection and more effective treatment.