SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - A cheaper, less invasive alternative to a colonoscopy is helping many people assess their risk for colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in both men and women.
Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if caught early. Gastroenterologist Dr. Jim Allison says a colonoscopy is a good screening test, but it isn't the only one that works.
"There are at least three tests that are excellent tests for colorectal cancer," said Allison.
Colonoscopies are expensive, costing up to $5,000 in the Bay Area. The procedure can also be uncomfortable and carry a small medical risk.
"I think if we got off the idea of there being only one good test, our screening rates would increase, especially in the uninsured/underserved population," said Allison.
The affordability aspect makes the FIT test a good alternative to colonoscopies. The test detects blood in the stool from larger polyps and cancers, which tend to bleed. FIT can be done in the privacy of your home and costs around $8. Tests are recommended about once a year. If the FIT test comes back positive, the patient will need a colonoscopy.
San Francisco General Hospital has been using the test in clinics and have seen increased screening rates of around 30 percent in just one year. Click here for more information on the SF General Program.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
for more features.