How Accurate Are at Home Stool Tests for Colon Cancer?
If you are experiencing any digestion-related symptoms, such as blood in the stool, changes in bowel movements, or bloating after eating, then this indicates that there is something wrong with your bowel.
One thing you can do to stay on top of your bowel health is to take an at-home stool test. Giving a stool sample to medical professionals will enable them to diagnose and treat the problem and help you feel better.
But exactly how accurate are at home stool tests for colon cancer? Keep reading to find out more.
What is the function of the colon in the body?
To understand what the colon does, let’s take a look at the large intestine.
The large intestine is made up of the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer (also known as bowel, rectal, or colorectal cancer) refers to cancer that begins in the large intestine.
What happens is that a clump of cells called polyps develops in the inner lining of the colon. If you have polyps growing inside you, this does not mean you will definitely develop cancer. Polyps can be non-cancerous and they can go away on their own.
A few polyps may continue to grow, which may eventually develop into colon cancer, over a period of several years.
The treatments available to help control colon cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and immunotherapy.
Colon cancer can develop at any age, but the risk significantly increases as people get older. In the UK, almost 6 in 10 colon cancer cases each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 and over.
Can I test myself for colon cancer?
Yes, you can take an at-home bowel cancer test, which detects whether there is blood in your stool. This aids in the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Remember, the earlier you act if you experience any unusual symptoms, the better it will be for your health.
This self-test is a rapid lateral flow test for the detection of hidden (occult) blood in faeces.
You can take the stool test in minutes, and then send it to our accredited lab for analysing, using the instructions provided.
You will receive your test results and any recommendations very quickly, within just a few days, via email.
Please note: If your results are outside the normal range and are of concern, it is a priority that you contact your local GP or emergency service by calling 111 or 999.
If you feel unwell or are concerned about your health, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the emergency services as soon as possible, do not wait for results to be issued.
How accurate are at home stool tests for colon cancer?
So, how accurate are at home stool tests for colon cancer?
Well, these stool sample tests are highly accurate at detecting colon cancer, with an accuracy rate of nearly 80%.
The test will detect any small amounts of blood in the faeces, which are invisible to the naked eye. This is an early warning sign of colon cancer. Hence, the earlier you take a stool test, then the quicker you can be sent for further tests and receive the correct treatment.
What should I do if my stool test results come back positive?
If you take an at-home stool test and your results come back positive, then this means that blood was found in your faeces. This does not automatically mean that you have colon cancer, but the presence of blood implies that you have a problem with your digestive health.
You should book a GP appointment as soon as possible, and explain that your at-home stool test result was positive. Your GP will arrange for further tests, such as a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a medical procedure where a tube with a small camera is inserted into your back passage so that the doctor can see pictures of the inside of your bowel on a TV monitor.
Whatever happens next, the doctors and nurses will do everything possible to keep you informed, make you feel comfortable, and provide the best care possible.
If you feel unwell, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen before seeing a doctor. The earlier you are examined by a doctor, then the quicker you can receive the treatment and support you need to feel better.
Who is at high risk of developing colon cancer?
There are several factors that might put a person at higher risk of developing colon cancer. These could include:
- Being aged 50 or over
- Having a family history of bowel cancer
- A history of non-cancerous growths (polyps) in your bowel
- Longstanding inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- An unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. a diet high in processed meats and low in fibre)
- Having a high alcohol intake or smoking
What is a good age to check for colon cancer?
If you are aged 50 or over, then it is worth taking an at-home stool test every year to check for colon cancer.
Research has shown that regularly taking part in bowel cancer screenings reduces the risk of death from cancer by at least 25%.
If your stool test comes back positive, then you may be sent for a colonoscopy, which will detect any polyps in your colon. These polyps can be surgically removed, which reduces your risk of developing bowel cancer.
How do I keep my digestive system healthy?
To maintain good digestive health, follow these tips below:
- Follow a high-fibre diet, to maintain bowel health and promote healthy gut bacteria. Foods that are rich in fibre include whole grains, avocado, prunes, apples, dates, berries, lentils, almonds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and rye bread.
- Limit your intake of fatty foods, such as fried foods, bacon, processed meals, baked goods such as biscuits and pastries, sugary desserts, heavy cream and butter.
- Eat smaller, frequent meals, rather than 3 large, heavy meals. This places less stress on the gastric system at any one time.
- Drink plenty of water, to stay hydrated and aid digestion.
- Visit a doctor as soon as you experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as long-lasting constipation, or blood in the stool.
- Take an at-home bowel health test, for early detection of bowel cancer.
- Attend colonoscopy or any bowel-related health appointments, so that doctors can detect any potential problems as early as possible.
Read more articles like this
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- How Do You Know if You Have Damaged Your Bowels?
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- How Do I Know if I've Got Iron Deficiency?
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- Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
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