The Associated Press reports on “A look at underused test in efforts to spur millions needing colon cancer checks.” Excerpts:
The dreaded colonoscopy may get the most attention but a cheap, old-fashioned stool test works, too — and when California health care giant Kaiser Permanente started mailing those tests to patients due for a colon check, its screening rates jumped well above the national average.
Now specialists are looking to Kaiser and the Veterans Affairs health system, another program that stresses stool-tests, for clues to what might encourage more people to get screened for a cancer that can be prevented, not just treated, if only early signs of trouble are spotted in time.
“By overselling and overpromising colonoscopies, we’ve put up barriers for people” to get any type of screening, says Dr. T.R. Levin, Kaiser Permanente’s colorectal cancer screening chief in northern California. …
The $20 stool test — usually handed over by a doctor, performed at home and then mailed to a lab — is considered as effective if properly used once a year. But its use has dropped as colonoscopies took center stage.