Cologuard vs Colonoscopy – Pros and Cons

04/02/2020 7

A colonoscopy is a common procedure that is used to examine changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum. This procedure is used to look at the inside of the colon. During the procedure, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum which enables doctors to view the inside of the entire colon. A colonoscope is a long, firm and flexible tube that has a tiny digital camera at one end. The pictures taken from the camera appear on the monitor to provide a clear view of the colon lining.

Why You Need to Have a Colonoscopy?

Your doctor may suggest a colonoscopy to look for bowel cancer or colon polyps. Colon polyps are grape-like growths in the colon or rectum which may eventually turn into cancer. A gastroenterologist can spot and remove polyps during a colonoscopy. Other than this, a colonoscopy may be used to find:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Pus or mucus in the stools
  • Blood in the stools
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Screening of colorectal cancer
  • Changes in bowel habits, etc

What Happens During the Procedure?

 Before the procedure, the candidate will be required to clean out the colon. The reason being any residue in the colon may obstruct the view of your rectum or colon during the examination. In order to do so your doctor recommend you follow a special diet, use an enema kit, take laxatives, etc.  During the consultation be sure to tell your doctor about the medications you are taking. Consequently your doctor may adjust the doses of your medications or ask you to refrain from taking them temporarily.

During the procedure the patient will be asked to lie on the left side. The doctor will insert the colonoscope through the rectum. You may be asked to change the position to help move the colonoscope. Your doctor may also blow some air into the colon to expand it and see more clearly.  The patient may feel cramping during the procedure. A colonoscope would be slowly withdrawn when the doctor has carefully examined the colon and rectum. Your doctor may remove a tissue sample or polyps for biopsy during the procedure. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes.

After the procedure the patient will require waiting for about an hour or two to let the sedative wear off. You are likely to feel bloated or pass gas from the gas your doctor placed into your colon.  There could be some blood in your stool. However, if this continues, call your doctor.

What is Cologuard?

Cologuard is a non-invasive, easy to use colon cancer screening test. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Cologuard can detect changes in your DNA that could point towards changes in your DNA. Cologuard is also helpful in checking for pre-cancerous polyps that might be present in your colon.  Cologuard has gained immense popularity in the last a few years because it is less invasive and more convenient than traditional colonoscopy.

If you want to avoid colonoscopy, Cologuard is a better procedure to screen for colorectal cancer.  This test can be used as an alternative test for people who are unable to have a colonoscopy.

To help you understand the difference between both the procedures, we are going to highlight the major difference between both the tests in a tabular form.

Cologuard vs Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy Cologuard
Colonoscopy can detect 95% of all colorectal cancers and also advanced pre-cancerous polyps.Cologuard detects 92% of colorectal cancers and 42% of precancerous polyps.
In colonoscopy, the use of long, flexible, camera enabled device (colonoscope) is made to detect colorectal cancer as well as pre-cancerous lesions. This allows doctors to clearly view the large bowel and small bowel for polyps or cancerous lesions.Cologuard tests DNA from stool samples for the presence of abnormal cancerous or precancerous cells It has no visual component to view the large bowel and distal part of small bowel.
Colonoscopy is used for screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. If your doctor has detected colon polyps during colonoscopy, he can remove them to avoid becoming cancerous.Though cologuard can detect signs of colorectal cancer and advanced colon polyps, it cannot detect polyps in the earliest stages when they can be easily removed.
When it comes to screening and prevention of colorectal, a colonoscopy is still the best choice.If you have hemorrhoids which could cause blood to show up in your stool, you are likely to receive a false positive result on your cologuard test. You will still need colonoscopy to find out more about your health condition.
During the colonoscopy procedure, your entire colon will be examined visually for colon polyps or colorectal cancer.On the other hand, stool tests do not enable a visual examination of your colon.

Colon cancer is curable if it is cured in early stages. Colon cancer which is detected at its earliest stages has a higher survival rate. On the other hand, once colon cancer has progressed to stage 3 or more results are likely to decline.  If you want to address concerns, fears and questions, we recommend you get both the colonoscopy and Cologuard tests at your next routine visit our gastroenterology clinic. Early detection and timely treatment can help you treat the problems such as Colorectal cancer, polyps, and other conditions.


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@dradamharris - 2 weeks

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