March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and it is an ideal time to get candid about the third most common cancer diagnosed among men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016, over 95,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Colon Cancer, and of those diagnosed, over half will die from Colon Cancer. Colon cancer normally develops from polyps in the large intestines. Colon cancer screening helps save lives by detecting polyps early so they can be removed before they become cancerous. Early detection through screening is invaluable and continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of over 1 million colorectal cancer survivors across the nation.
When it comes to regular screening for the average American, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend testing during the following intervals:
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year (colonoscopy is needed if results are positive)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 to 10 years, usually with stool testing (FOBT) done every 1 to 3 years
- Virtual colonoscopy every 5 years
A Fecal Occult Blood Test is a stool test and perhaps one the simplest Colon Cancer screening procedures. Blood in the stool is a classic indicator of the presence of polyps in the large intestines. Often, this blood is not perceivable by the naked eye, so the FOBT is very useful in detecting blood in the stool. While the FOBT is the most common stool test, other tests include the sDNA or stool DNA test and the FIT or fecal immunochemical test. sDNA also known as the Cologuard test is a non-invasive procedure that checks for blood in the stool as well as changes in DNA that may indicate cancer or pre-cancerous polyps. One of the drawbacks of sDNA is that individuals must meet very specific criteria in order to be eligible to use it as a screening method. Additionally, many people may still require a colonoscopy following the procedure. In contrast the FIT test, or Immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) may have wider appeal and is thought to produce more accurate results since medicines and food do not interfere with its performance and results.
Alfa Scientific Designs, Inc., is one of the first companies to offer an over-the-counter (OTC) Fecal Occult Blood test (FOBT) for Colon Cancer Pre-Screening. In just 4 simple steps, you can perform a FOBT in the privacy and comfort of your home. With unprecedented speed and 98% accuracy, results are available in as little as 5 minutes.
Always remember to consult your doctor to help determine which Colon Cancer screening test is best for you.
Learn more about colorectal cancer testing here.