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Colorectal cancer, the second-highest cause of cancer deaths in the United States, is largely preventable thanks to colonoscopy screening. Still, nearly 23 million adults ages 50 to 75 are past due for screening, according to JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

A new home test for colon cancer, however, may persuade those who have been putting it off to take action. It’s as reliable as the traditional screening, health experts say — and certainly more agreeable.

The DIY screening, known as a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), simply requires that you take a stool sample and return it to a lab in a special cardboard mailer. Technicians test the sample to determine whether it contains microscopic amounts of blood.

FIT does not, however, reliably identify small polyps, JAMA notes: Those with abnormal results must complete a follow-up colonoscopy to remove any polyps or possibly detect early-stage colorectal cancer.

The benefits, though, are numerous. FIT does not require intensive bowel preparation, sedation, or a designated driver to transport the patient home. Plus, its low cost and ease of access may help reduce disparities in colorectal cancer screening. Latinx, Indigenous people, and those living in nonmetropolitan areas rank highest among the 31 percent of American adults who are delaying testing, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Michael Dregni

Michael Dregni is an Experience Life deputy editor.

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