Survival rates for colon cancer are greatly improved when the disease is detected and treated early, making effective screening procedures that patients are willing to undergo a vital part of improving survival. And, when precancerous changes to the colon and rectum are detected before they progress to cancer, the disease may be prevented altogether.

The standard screening test for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy (examination of the colon and rectum with a lighted tube and attached camera).  Though colonoscopy is an effective screening measure, the test’s invasive nature (the lighted tube is inserted into the large intestine through the rectum) discourages some at-risk people from receiving this important screening.

In order to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among the at-risk population, research has sought less invasive ways to test for the disease. One such screening method tests DNA from a stool sample. This non-invasive approach, developed by Exact Sciences, is more advanced than other stool DNA tests and its accuracy has recently been validated in clinical trials. Patients perform the test at home, using a kit; the process involves obtaining a stool sample and mailing it to a laboratory for testing.

Your healthcare provider will help you determine which screening tests are appropriate for you, as well as a screening schedule. You may also want to discuss non-invasive approaches—such as the stool DNA test from Exact Sciences—with your physician. For more information, see