Evaluate your level of risk for colon cancer.Everyone is eligible for colon cancer screening beginning at the age of 50; however, if you have a family history of colon cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, both of which increase your risk of developing colon cancer) you may be eligible to begin screening earlier.,
Obtain the testing package.The first thing you will need to do in order to self-screen for colon cancer is to obtain the at-home stool testing package.,
Collect the required number of stool samples.,
Store the stool sample at room temperature.,
Send the stool sample back to the lab.After you have collected your sample and placed it in the appropriate areas of the packaging, you will need to return it to the lab for analysis.,
Book a follow-up appointment to review your results.After the lab has finished analyzing your stool, you will want to go in to see your family doctor again to review the results of your stool test.
Don’t wait to discuss this with your doctor — even if you are still young, it is important to notify your doctor if you have any risk factors.
See your doctor at age 50 to begin self-screening, and earlier if you believe you have additional risk factors (in which case your doctor will let you know at what age you are eligible to begin).;
, You will need to visit your family doctor to obtain this, and she will explain the procedure to you during this visit as well.
One stool test is called the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). This looks for blood in your stool that is not visible to the naked eye. It is the most commonly used self-screening test for colon cancer.Another stool test option is called the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). This is almost the same as FOBT, except instead of detecting blood via heme it detects it via antibodies directed at human hemoglobin.The final self-screening stool test option is called Cologuard. This evaluates both for the presence of blood in the stool, as well as for DNA that has been correlated to a higher risk for colon cancer.It is quite new and therefore not currently recommended as the standard of care; however, studies indicate that the new Cologuard test could potentially have a greater ability to detect colon cancer than either the FOBT or the FIT tests.
, Once you have the package at home with you, you are ready to begin testing at the time of your next bowel movement. Take note of how many stool samples you will need. Some self-screening packages request three samples, often each the size of a smear on a piece of toilet paper. Others ask for only one sample, but it may require the whole bowel movement to be packaged and sent into the lab.
One way to collect bowel samples more easily is to place a piece of plastic wrap over the toilet bowl, allowing it to hang just above the water level.After your bowel movement, you can then collect the stool sample (in the required amount) before flushing the rest down the toilet.
Ensure that no urine contaminates your stool sample.
, It is important to store your stool sample at room temperature until you have a chance to return it to the lab. This should be done within seven days following the collection of your stool sample.
, The address of the lab should be listed on the side of the package — normally, you can return it to any medical lab in your area, or to the hospital lab, whichever is most convenient for you to get to.
, Depending on whether the result is positive (suspicious for possible colon cancer) or negative (not worrisome), your doctor will help you to plan your next steps, if any further investigative steps need to be taken.