Understanding the Stool Sample Requirements for Cologuard
Cologuard is an FDA-approved, non-invasive, at-home colon cancer screening test designed for individuals aged 45 or older at average risk for colon cancer. The test is a significant advancement in the early detection of colon cancer, which is highly treatable when identified in its early stages. Cologuard is capable of detecting both precancerous and cancerous cells by analyzing the DNA and blood released from altered cells.
In a clinical study involving 10,000 participants aged 50-84 years old, Cologuard successfully identified 92% of all colon cancers and 94% of all stage I & II cancers. This underscores the test’s effectiveness in detecting potential health risks.
It is important to note that Cologuard is not a replacement for colonoscopy in high-risk individuals. The test was approved by the FDA in August 2014 after undergoing a rigorous review process known as a Pre-Market Approval (PMA).
How Much Stool Does Cologuard Need?
One of the common queries related to Cologuard is the amount of stool required for the test. The test kit includes easy-to-follow, step-by-step sample-collection instructions, and there is no specific quantity of stool mentioned as a requirement. The focus is on collecting a consistent sample, and the kit provides guidance on the collection process.
It is important to collect the sample as soon as possible once the test order is received, as timely screening is crucial for health assessment. The expiration date of the test order should be checked, and if it has passed, a new Cologuard test kit can be obtained at no additional cost by contacting the Customer Care Center.
While the test does not specify a specific amount of stool required, it is essential for individuals to ensure that their sample is consistent for them. The test kit also provides information on what to do if an individual is sick or experiencing diarrhea at the time of sample collection.
Requesting and Using Cologuard
Individuals can request Cologuard through their healthcare provider or an online telehealth provider. The test kit comes with simple instructions for sample collection, and there is no specific preparation required. The kit also includes instructions for repacking, labeling, and postage for returning the sample.
It is recommended to track the order through a personal account and to ensure that the sample is collected and returned in a timely manner. The American Cancer Society recommends beginning screening for colon cancer at age 45, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. If a negative result is obtained, it is advised to screen again in 3 years.
Managing Cologuard Results
Once the Cologuard kit is shipped back, it typically takes under 2 weeks to receive the results. The results are accessible through the individual’s account, and they are also sent to the healthcare provider. A positive result indicates the detection of altered DNA and/or blood, necessitating further discussions with a healthcare provider regarding next steps, which may include a colonoscopy.
On the other hand, a negative result means that altered DNA and/or blood were not detected, and it is still recommended to follow up with the healthcare provider. It is important to note that a positive Cologuard test result is not a cancer diagnosis, and individuals should consult their doctor for further guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is there a specific amount of stool required for the Cologuard test?
No, the Cologuard test does not specify a specific amount of stool required. The focus is on collecting a consistent sample, and the test kit provides guidance on the collection process.
2. What should I do if the expiration date of my test order has passed?
If the expiration date of the test order has passed, individuals can contact the Customer Care Center to obtain a new Cologuard test kit at no additional cost.
3. Can I use Cologuard if I am experiencing diarrhea?
If an individual is sick and experiencing diarrhea, it is recommended to wait until feeling better to collect a sample. The test kit provides guidance on what to do in such situations.
4. How long does it take to receive the results after shipping back the Cologuard kit?
It typically takes under 2 weeks to receive the results after shipping back the Cologuard kit. The results are accessible through the individual’s account and are also sent to their healthcare provider.
5. What does a positive Cologuard test result indicate?
A positive result indicates the detection of altered DNA and/or blood, which could be caused by a precancerous polyp or colon cancer. It is important to discuss the result with a healthcare provider for further guidance.
6. Is a positive Cologuard test result a cancer diagnosis?
No, a positive Cologuard test result is not a cancer diagnosis. Individuals should consult their doctor to discuss the next steps and any further testing that may be required.