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 In Ask an Expert, Gastroenterology, Pulse Blog

Q: Why should I choose a colonoscopy over a home test?

A colonoscopy is the gold standard screening test for colon cancer. This simple outpatient procedure detects colorectal cancer and precancerous colorectal polyps. Doctors can remove any precancerous polyps found during the procedure, reducing the patient’s risk of developing colorectal cancer in the future. Adults with average risk and normal colonoscopy results should have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Stool-based tests for colon cancer screening are supported by the American College of Gastroenterology, although such tests have limitations. Compared with a colonoscopy, stool-based tests are less sensitive and thus less likely to detect precancerous colon polyps. They also need to be repeated on a more frequent basis—every one to three years.

Adults at average risk of colon cancer should have their first screening at age 45. Talk to your primary care provider or schedule a colonoscopy by calling 360-882-2778.

—Peter Caruana, MD

Dr. Peter Caruana is a gastroenterologist at Vancouver Clinic. He enjoys being able to help patients with a wide range of digestive problems. He has a special interest in preventing colon cancer and treating diseases that impact the liver and bile ducts.

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