A really critical thing to know about at-home tests, when compared to colonoscopy, is that at-home tests cannot prevent colon cancer. At-home tests can detect abnormalities, such as blood in the stool, but they aren't as strong at detecting precancerous polyps, lesions and cancers.
There are two main categories for at-home tests:
FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test): The FIT tests for blood in the stool. You receive a kit in the mail with instructions for collecting a stool sample from the toilet. The kit is then sent back to the lab for testing. FIT is simple, safe and conveniently done at home. FIT is recommended every year, and a positive test will require a full, diagnostic colonoscopy, likely increasing your out-of-pocket expense as compared to a screening (before positive FIT test) colonoscopy.
Fecal DNA (Cologuard®): Fecal DNA testing is also an easy-to-use, home-based kit requiring you to collect a stool sample from the toilet and mail the kit in for testing. This test is recommended every one to three years, and may be covered by insurance*. Again, it cannot detect precancerous polyps like colonoscopy can, and positive test results will require a full, diagnostic colonoscopy.
Don't get us wrong, at-home tests can be the right tests for some. But when it comes to the most comprehensive test, which can not only detect but also prevent colon cancer, screening colonoscopy is the gold standard.
*Please check with your insurance carrier to determine your individual benefits.