Cologuard or Colonoscopy: Which is Right for You? | Centers for Gastroenterology

Cologuard or Colonoscopy: Which is Right for You?

Cologuard or Colonoscopy: Which is Right for You?

As you get older there are many things to consider regarding your health.  Some may argue there’s a mile-long checklist to complete around the time you turn 50, but a serious concern is to be screened for colon cancer. 

This type of cancer is the third most common form of cancer among men and women each year in the US. A colon or large intestine check-up is one of the most common non-symptom-related check-ups there is. For most people, scheduling a colonoscopy is on the bottom of their to-do list because they are not educated on the procedure or importance of seeing a gastroenterologist.

This procedure isn’t exactly exciting by any means. Having a flexible tube inserted into your rectum isn’t a day circled on your calendar with a smiley face next to it. However, thanks to the wonderful scientists and lab experts, a new method of getting your colon checked has come to fruition. This new method is called Cologuard, an at-home stool-based test.  In some ways, a Cologuard stands toe to toe in comparison to a colonoscopy.  However, the question is which process is better to check for colon cancer? 

From Franciscan Health, “physicians who performed colonoscopy still regard colonoscopy as the gold standard.” On the other hand, the immediate benefit of Cologuard is that it is convenient, there is no pain and the process is not over invasive. According to, Cologuard does not require any special preparation, only to follow the instructions arrived with the Cologuard kit.


So, what are the benefits of each procedure?



  • A colonoscopy gives the physician the opportunity to look directly inside the entire rectum area, providing the most accurate and direct results.  This includes detecting small tumors, polyps, and other benign growths. Physicians are also able to remove those polyps or other biopsy suspicious lesions during your colonoscopy. Typically, colonoscopies are performed once a year unless your physician recommends more frequently.



  • Cologuard, the new procedure that offers simpler reassurance that your colon is healthy, has its own set of benefits. Cologuard is done without a physician or doctor present from the comfort of your home. Unlike a colonoscopy, there is no special preparation. The most attractive benefit of Cologuard is that there is no pain or discomfort.


Where do these two processes outweigh one another?  

As previously stated, a colonoscopy has been set as the golden standard for checking for colon cancer. However, Cologuard testing offers a way to make sure you’re healthy with no hassle at all. However, it is important to note that there are common risk factors to be aware of. Cologuard is pain-free and simple, but the results take two weeks.  If the results come back positive, then a colonoscopy is mandatory. The Cologuard test also lacks the discrete knowledge to distinguish the differences between cancer and benign polyps, let alone to detect a polyp.  A positive stool sample may create unnecessary worry when the stool could be unveiling something very minor.  Because this process has so many uncertain outcomes, primary care physicians recommend performing this method every 3 years. Lastly, some foods consumed can misconstrue results to be a false positive.

Taking all the negative viewpoints of a Cologuard test into consideration, it circles back around to the risk factor. May a colonoscopy be uncomfortable, yes; but do the certainties outweigh the negative backfire of a Cologuard. It seems as if while the Cologuard offers a similar substitute, you cannot go wrong with a common colonoscopy.  Be sure to check with your doctor to determine the best method for you. 

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