The studies are going to continue for years, and (as always seems to be the case with medical stuff) they will agree, disagree, and maybe agree. In the meantime, what is a human to do?
I was one of the early test subjects for the fecal occult blood test – basically, you collect a small amount of your poo and send it to a lab, and they check for signs of blood or (now) other metabolites that may indicate a cancer. NBC reports [nbc]
When it comes to colon cancer screening, an annual stool test may be as effective as colonoscopy for people who don’t have risk factors for the disease, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from 31 studies that included more than 120,000 average risk patients who had a stool test and then a colonoscopy. They determined that the fecal immunochemical test – or FIT – is sufficient to screen for colon cancer, according to the report published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The FIT is designed to detect the protein hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. People who test positive with the FIT need to get a colonoscopy to determine whether they have cancer or pre-cancerous lesions. But those who test negative only need to keep getting the FIT each year to make sure they don’t develop colon cancer.
If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, or a diet that is likely to increase your chances of colon cancer, you should continue to get colonoscopies. Otherwise, the fecal tests are improving rapidly and appear to be effective. Considering the cost and difficulty of doing the test, it seems like a no-brainer to me.
I believe I mentioned this last year, too. I’m going to try to mention it every year or so. Meanwhile, the tests are getting better! It turns out there is all kinds of fascinating things they can look for, in addition to diamonds, that is.