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To compile our list of the best at-home colon cancer screening options, we researched many popular tests based on three metrics we feel are important to consumers: certifications, convenience, and the availability of support by a health care professional. Read our full methodology below.
Cologuard is a prescription-only, FDA-approved colon cancer screening test for patients 45 and over with no personal or family history of colon cancer. The test is supplied by Exact Sciences Corporation based in Wisconsin. Cologuard comes with a discussion guide/form for you and your doctor to complete with space for insurance details. You may also have a telemedicine appointment through the link on the Cologuard site to acquire a prescription virtually.
Cologuard’s colon cancer testing screens for colon cancer in two ways. The first is through the detection of blood in the stool, which requires a stool sample. The second is through genetic screening to detect certain DNA markers that put you at greater risk of developing colon cancer. The discreetly-packaged test is shipped to your home, where you can use it privately.
The included special stool collection apparatus outfitted for your bathroom makes the process simple and sanitary. You put your sample back in the box it came in and mail it using the prepaid shipping label within 24 hours of taking the sample. Exact Sciences’ lab is CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified and adheres to all HIPAA regulations.
Results are sent back within two weeks to the health care provider you indicated on the form. A positive outcome for the stool sample or the DNA marker is an indication that further testing, possibly with a colonoscopy, is needed but doesn’t mean you have cancer.
Cologuard bills insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid — copays and out-of-pocket costs will depend on the insurance plan.
Cost: Billed to insurance
Visit Cologuard: https://www.cologuard.com/
Pixel is an at-home colon cancer screening test offered by Labcorp, which has been conducting diagnostic testing for more than 50 years. Pixel doesn’t require you to have a prescription or make a doctor’s visit, but each test request is reviewed and approved by an independent physician. You order the test by purchasing it on the website.
Pixel’s colon cancer testing is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) that detects blood in the stool and requires a swab-sized stool sample. Because tumors may cause intermittent bleeding and the sample size is small, a negative test result will not rule out the possibility of cancer.
The test is shipped to your home address, where you can use it discreetly after registering it online. The Pixel test only requires a swab sample and includes special packaging to contain the sample for return shipping. You mail the package back in the same box it arrived in by using the pre-paid, pre-addressed mailing label. The Pixel test doesn’t include DNA screening.
You can review your test results conveniently online when they are available. In some cases, test results may be given through phone or email contact if there is a need for more urgency. Because there are other causes for the presence of blood in the stool, a positive test does not indicate cancer, but, instead, the need for further testing, possibly including a colonoscopy. Labcorp is CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified and follows all HIPAA regulations.
Pixel is $99 and includes the costs of physician services and shipping. Pixel does not offer direct insurance billing for purchase but does take credit and debit card payments.
Visit Pixel by Labcorp: https://www.pixel.labcorp.com
Everlywell is an online diagnostic service that offers a colon cancer screening test that doesn’t require a prescription or a doctor’s visit. Each test is reviewed and approved by an independent board-certified physician who practices in your state. You order the test by purchasing it on Everlywell’s website.
Everlywell’s colon cancer testing is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) which requires a swab-sized stool sample to detect occult (hidden) blood in the stool. The absence of blood in your sample will not rule out colon cancer.
When your test kit arrives, you can register it online using the unique ID number that comes in the box. Once you have collected your sample, you mail it back in the same box using the prepaid shipping label. Everlywell does not test for DNA markers.
Your results are physician-reviewed and available on Everlywell’s platform in a matter of days. The results include insights into what your results might mean for your risk of colon cancer. The presence of blood alone does not mean you have colon cancer, and a follow-up appointment with your health care provider is recommended for any positive results. Everlywell’s lab is CLIA-certified and observes all HIPAA laws.
Everlywell’s colon cancer test is $49 for non-members and $24.99 for members. The membership fee is $24.99 per month and gives you access to one qualifying test per month, such as a cholesterol or HIV test. Everlywell does not offer direct insurance billing but does allow HSA and FSA payments for test purchases in addition to credit, debit, and PayPal.
Visit Everlywell: https://www.testing.com/go/everlywell-colon-cancer-test-at-home
Pinnacle Biolabs offers a rapid-results, over-the-counter in-home “second generation” colon cancer screening test the doesn’t require a doctor’s appointment or prescription. Pinnacle Biolab’s “second generation” test is CLIA-waived and FDA-cleared for over-the-counter use and doesn’t need any physician involvement for test approval or reviewing of results. You can purchase the test online or from participating local pharmacies.
Pinnacle Biolabs colon cancer testing is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) that doesn’t require you to ship any samples. The test is a rapid-results test, much like a pregnancy test, that gives results immediately when it detects more than 50 nanograms of spiked globin levels in your stool sample. A negative test result does not rule out the possibility of cancer.
You perform the test by collecting a small amount of fecal matter from your tissue paper with a wand and placing it in a vial where you shake it for three seconds, so it mixes with the testing solution. You then place three drops of the solution on the test cassette and wait for the results. While positive results can be seen in minutes, Pinnacle recommends waiting for much longer to confirm a negative test result before discarding the testing materials. Pinnacle states that a follow-up colonoscopy is almost always recommended for a positive result and to consult with your doctor and retest with a FIT test annually for any negative results. The Pinnacle Biolabs test does not include genetic screening.
The Pinnacle Biolabs colon cancer testing is available for purchase on the website by credit and debit cards for $24.99, including tax and shipping. The test is also available for over-the-counter purchase by pharmacies, such as CVS and Walmart, but direct insurance billing isn’t an option.
Visit Pinnacle Biolabs: https://www.pblabs.com
EZ Detect is an immediate-response, over-the-counter in-home colon cancer screening test offered by Biomerica Inc. It doesn’t require a prescription, physician’s visit, handling of fecal matter, or any dietary restrictions (such as avoiding rare meat). Each FDA-cleared test kit is available at most pharmacies, may also be purchased online, and contains five test pads for a total of two control tests and three screening tests.
EZ Detect colon cancer testing detects blood in the water after a bowel movement. The test kit includes a chemical to check that your kit is functioning properly. You don’t need to touch or handle your stool with this test. A negative test does not mean that you don’t have colon cancer.
After confirming the test accuracy with the chemical and a control test pad, you deposit a pad into the commode water that contains your stool. The appearance of a blue-green color after a few minutes indicates the presence of 2.0 mg hemoglobin/100 ml water or more. The test includes a result card for you to fill out and send or show your doctor in the event of a positive test. EZ Detect doesn’t screen for genetic biomarkers.
EZ Detect colon cancer testing can be purchased online (in the United States only) for $7.99 or at participating pharmacies, such as Walgreens. Online purchases don’t include shipping costs. EZ Detect does not offer insurance billing, but credit and debit cards are accepted online.
Visit EZ Detect: http://ezdetect.com/about.html
We curated our recommendations of the best at-home colon cancer screening tests based on three criteria that are most often the most important to consumers.
Many people prefer in-home colon cancer screening tests because they are much more convenient than colonoscopies, which are invasive, disruptive, and difficult to get approved by insurance companies for those under the age of 50. To evaluate each company’s convenience-factor, we looked at whether an in-person doctor’s visit or prescription was required and how fast and easy it was to get results. We also prioritized based on free shipping and the ease in returning samples.
Because of the importance of accurate testing when it comes to screening for a serious condition such as colorectal cancer, we only included companies that offer FDA-approved or FDA-cleared tests. FDA approval means that these tests have been concluded to be safe for in-home use and accurate according to the methods employed by the test.
While a positive colon cancer screening test doesn’t mean cancer, it can be very concerning. We prioritized companies that give clear guidance on the next steps in the event of a positive result. Although other medical issues can also cause blood to appear in stools, even the diagnoses of those medical problems don’t rule out the additional presence of cancer. A specialist can guide you through the testing you need to take to rule out cancer.
Because colon cancer most often presents with occult blood in the stool, at-home colon cancer testing is designed to detect even the smallest amounts of blood. While bright red blood can indicate hemorrhoids or the possibility of rectal cancer, colon cancer, which occurs further up the colon, is usually darker in color and less likely to be noticed with the naked eye, especially trace amounts. Colon cancer tests detect occult blood, which can indicate cancer, non-cancerous polyps, and other medical conditions. A positive test result is not a positive test for cancer but an indication you need further testing to rule out colorectal cancer.
Doctors and hospitals already use fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) for colon cancer screening because they are easy to administer. The science behind occult blood detection has been tested and approved by the FDA, so FDA-approved at-home tests are accurate at detecting blood in the stool when it’s present. On the other hand, not all cancerous tumors bleed continually, so even a negative test result does not mean you don’t have cancer. The test is only accurate in detecting blood, not cancerous tumors. Experts have concluded that annual FIT tests (with a follow-up colonoscopy for positive results) are as effective at screening for colorectal cancer as having a colonoscopy alone every ten years.
If you are under 50, you may have a very difficult time getting approved for a colonoscopy, which is an effective cancer-detecting method. The ease and convenience of testing at home makes it more likely you would test more frequently and detect occult blood earlier than waiting for cancer symptoms to appear. DNA testing is an extra added safety-net because it can indicate a high risk for aggressive forms of colon cancer before you ever develop them.
Out-of-pocket costs for the doctor-reviewed tests we evaluated ranged from zero for tests covered by insurance to $99. Inexpensive over-the-counter tests as low as $7.99 are a convenient and affordable alternative for people to begin annual testing at even younger ages.