Mounting evidence shows that an annual at-home stool test may be just as effective as a colonoscopy for people at average risk for colon cancer. New research from Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute conducted a review of 31 previous studies.
They found that a test that identifies hidden blood in stool, is an effective colorectal cancer-screening method. Right now patients in the U.S. are mostly screened by colonoscopy, an invasive and costly procedure.
IU School of Medicine Professor and Regenstrief Researcher Tom Imperiale is the study’s lead author.
“It’s comparing a one time ultra-sensitive test, that is colonoscopy, with a frequently applied slightly less sensitive test,” says Imperiale.
Fecal immunochemical tests or FITs, are often used as a primary method of sceening in other countries. Imperiale says the study focused on people with average risk and no symptoms.
“There are options to colonoscopy really for most people, who are in the colon cancer screening age, people need to be aware of it and their providers need to bring it up,” says Imperiale.
Imperiale says a system change would have to include better communication, coordination and follow-up colonoscopy if a stool test is flagged.
The U.S. Preventative Screening Task Force currently recommends colorectal cancer screenings for adults 50-75 without preferring one test over another.