If you’ve been squeamish about having anyone take a look around inside your colon… a new home test promises to be a step in the right direction.
It’s billed as colon cancer screening “made easy” – and anything “non-invasive” is likely to sound better than a colonoscopy.
Oh, it’s non-invasive all right. You rig a bucket up to your toilet seat… sit… and poop.
A home test called Cologuard offers the ability to detect the presence of colon cancer… or precancerous lesions… earlier than ever before.
Approved by the FDA in 2014, it screens samples of DNA found in your stool – reportedly with more accuracy than the fecal occult blood test that your doc might send to the lab.
Sounds good, right? But read the fine print…
Because it turns out it DOESN’T replace a colonoscopy!
And even if it DOESN’T do more harm than good, it may be just a mainstream scheme to ratchet up your medical bills.
What’s the catch?
Here’s a classic example of what I call “alarm clock testing.”
The calendar flips to a certain birthday… an alarm goes off… and BOOM.
You’re sent in for a screening. (Or, in this case, your poop is sent OUT.)
The ultra-mainstream American Cancer Society recently lowered its recommended age for colon cancer screening from 50 to 45 years old.
Cologuard plans to follow suit and change its labeling to reflect the younger recommended age…
Even if there’s NOTHING to indicate an elevated risk – no family history, no IBD or other digestive issues, no prior cancer, no signs or symptoms.
In fact, if you HAVE any of the above factors – ones that would make you worry about colon cancer — this test ISN’T FOR YOU!
It’s ONLY for folks whose risk is “typical.”
So they’re pushing it on HEALTHY people… just because they’re of a “certain age.”
We’ve seen the same thing happen with mammograms… PSA tests… and countless other screenings.
Cologuard is no better, either – it comes with the SAME risk of false positives AND negatives as those other cancer tests do.
In a clinical trial, Cologuard was POSITIVE in 13% of participants with ZERO cancer or advanced precancerous lesions.
And the older you get, the greater your chances are of being told you MIGHT have cancer when you DON’T.
Of course, there’s also a chance it’ll tell you that you’re in the clear… when you’re NOT.
Initially, the pitch sounds good. The test will supposedly detect cancer earlier… and improve outcomes.
But no matter WHAT the results of your Cologuard test say, you’ll STILL need a colonoscopy to be sure.
Though invasive… and cringe-inducing… colonoscopy still the “gold standard” in colorectal cancer screening.
If your doc finds any precancerous polyps during the procedure, he can remove them right then and there.
So… why this extra step of Cologuard?
As usual, it all boils down to MONEY.
Because not only can they SELL you on a test that you’re more likely to agree to than a colonoscopy…
But then they can use the results to finally SELL you on getting a colonoscopy!
Classic foot-in-the-door technique.
Plus, you could get charged up the wazoo for a follow-up colonoscopy for a positive Cologuard, as Medicare considers it a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure rather than a preventive screening test.
The latter is fully covered. The former is not.
There’s another aspect to this – and surprise, surprise, it involves Big Pharma drugs.
The maker and marketer of Cologuard, the Wisconsin-based Exact Sciences, is in bed with Pfizer.
That explains all the advertising… advertorials… sponsored golf tournaments… and celebrity endorsements.
Pfizer has forked over a significant chunk of change to promote Cologuard — to the tune of $70 million.
And Cologuard’s president is a former Big Pharma shill, who spent nearly three decades at Abbott Laboratories/AbbVie.
Seems to me that if they can’t get you diagnosed with cancer… or at least precancer… then they can’t get you to rack up a huge chemo bill.
Listen, nobody likes the idea of being PROBED “down there.” But it’s a heckuva lot better than DYING from colon cancer.
Using Cologuard as a frontline screening tool just delays the inevitable… and unnecessarily prolongs your anxiety.
Just go straight for the colonoscopy.