Colonoscopy vs. Cologuard: Which Is Better?

The time rolls around for the dreaded colonoscopy. May we be the first to congratulate you on your visit. You’ve got to do it and it may even save your life. You prepare with no solid foods, chalky bowel prep drinks and a good dose of anxiety. Then the procedure…we’ll stop here.
Colon cancer polyps in the large intestine that might be detected by cologuard or colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. MIIS of Florida logo at top right.Despite the dread, colonoscopies are the most accurate test to screen for cancerous or pre-cancerous polyps in your colon, but in recent years other tests have surfaced that are much less invasive – of course with some caveats.

What is Cologuard?

Approved by the FDA in 2014, Cologuard seemed to be the answer to everyone’s desire to sidestep a colonoscopy. This test is, after all, the only FDA approved home and stool-based DNA screening.
You’ll take your Cologuard kit home and collect a stool sample to send to a lab to be analyzed. The lab looks for abnormalities in your DNA and traces of blood that could be a result of precancerous polyps in the colon.
Cologuard is prescribed by your doctor and covered by many health insurance plans. It is a non-invasive exam. It can detect over 40 percent of large polyps that have formed in your colon and provides quick and easy results.
Who is Cologuard for?

  • Those over 45 years of age
  • Those with average colon cancer risk
  • Those who are unable to undergo a colonoscopy

Who is Cologuard NOT for?

  • Patients with a history of colorectal cancer or other cancers
  • Patients with above average risk of colorectal cancer

Which Test Should You Get?

 Does a test like Cologuard get you out of your five or ten-year colonoscopy visit? No. Colonoscopies are still the gold standard for accuracy when it comes to detecting precancerous polyps. With a 95 percent detection rate of large polyps, a colonoscopy is your safest bet when it comes to detection or prevention of colon cancer.
If you rely only on a test such as Cologuard, some polyps may go undetected – increasing your risk of colon cancer. Cologuard also comes with a 12 percent false positive rate (especially if other blood-causing conditions like hemorrhoids are present) that can unnecessarily cause stress and worry. Even a true positive will require a colonoscopy for confirmation.

The Bottom Line

Cologuard is recommended for patients that refuse to undergo a colonoscopy procedure or are not in good enough health to do so. If you are unfit for a colonoscopy, Cologuard may be a good alternative because a less accurate test is better than not testing at all.
Colonoscopies may seem like an uncomfortable experience, but it is just one day every five to ten years, that can ultimately save your life.
If you would like to talk to a doctor about colon cancer screening and what is best for you, give us a calltoday. MIIS takes pride in providing state of the art surgical care and focusing on your experience as a patient. Our goal is to make sure you are the healthiest version of yourself surrounded by a professional medical team that is there for you along the way.