colonoscopy scheduled on a calendar

The Dangers of Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Home Screening

Colon cancer claims over 50,000 lives every year and is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. Colon cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable – but only with early and accurate detection.

COVID-19 has forced many of us to find new ways to do things at home. While this may work for telecommuting, ordering home delivery, or other social distancing related practices – it is not recommended when it comes to colorectal cancer prevention. Lately, there has been a rise in home screening for colon cancer, but before you consider it, there are a few things you may need to know…

Facts About Home Screening

  • Home screening has a very high false positive rate
  • Home screening misses 83% of non-advanced adenomas (smaller than 1cm and no dysplasia)
  • Home screening misses 42% of advanced adenoma
  • Home screening is relatively cheap up front, but it can be more costly long-term

The True Cost of Home Screening

While Medicare and most insurance will cover 100% of the initial screening test chosen by a patient, follow up tests resulting from a positive first test may not be covered by insurance.

A positive home screening will result in a colonoscopy as a probable next step. This may not be covered since the annual colon cancer screening benefit would have already been used up by home screening and subsequent testing may be seen as diagnostic or therapeutic.

A recent study of 450 patients presented at Digestive Disease Week in May 2021 found that only two percent (2%) of patients with a positive stool test had colon cancer.  And, two-thirds of the patients tested had a false-positive result, which may have resulted in more out-of-pocket expenses for a diagnostic colonoscopy to validate the findings of the home test, as described by the news reports. Alternatively, most insurance providers would cover a simple colonoscopy screening that detects and prevents colorectal cancer as a preventative measure.

Preventing Colon Cancer

Because colon cancer often begins as growths in the colon called polyps, finding and removing polyps is the best way to prevent colon cancer. Potential polyps identified through a positive FIT or a Cologuard test require a colonoscopy to remove the polyps. Unfortunately, large polyps can go undetected with FIT and Cologuard tests.  When polyps aren’t found and removed, it increases the risk of developing colon cancer.

chart showing detection rate of large cancerous polyps

A colonoscopy is the ONLY procedure that can both detect colon cancer and REMOVE these potentially cancerous issues.

Colorectal Cancer – Did You Know?

  • 5% of the U.S. will get colon cancer
  • There are 50,000+ colorectal cancer deaths in the U.S. each year
  • Colorectal cancer is the #2 cause of cancer-related death