That Colonoscopy You Dread Just Got a Lot Easier

The invasive procedure has long been feared and reviled—but a new alternative changes everything

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Published in
2 min readJan 13, 2021

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As Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death made all too clear, colon cancer remains a pressing threat for Black men even before they enter middle age. Rates among younger males are on the rise. Early detection remains key to beating the disease—but it also necessitates a screening procedure that’s a literal pain in the ass. The preparation is unpleasant, the screening itself is uncomfortable, and the effects … well, we’ll just say things might not snap back immediately. So while you should be getting an annual colonoscopy once you turn 45, there’s also a good chance you avoided it. All the more reason we were hyped this week when The New York Times reported that an at-home (and non-invasive!) alternative has proven to be as reliable as conventional colonoscopies.

It’s called FIT, for “fecal immunochemical test.” Instead of playing host to a drain snake with a camera on the end, you send off a stool sample to a lab, which tests for traces of blood. If that happens—which it does in less than 6% of tests, reporter Paula Span writes—then you need a colonoscopy. But for 95% of people, that’s it. You’re done for the year. The only drawback, seemingly, is that healthcare networks using the FIT are only doing so for men 50 and older, which ignores colon cancer’s disproportionate impact on Black men. Our advice? Ask your doctor for the test, even if you’re only in your mid-forties. Better to get your hands a little dirty now than risk worse trouble down the road. Read the story here.

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