Few preventive tests are as effective as colon cancer screening. With early detection, many cases of colon cancer can be cured or even prevented – and modern stool tests make that much easier.
Colon cancer usually develops very slowly and starts off as benign polyps. If detected early, these polyps can be removed before they turn into cancer. In addition to colonoscopy, the statutory colon cancer prevention also includes stool tests which are a less unpleasant and less cumbersome alternative for patients. Compared to older chemical stool tests (such as the guaiac test) the new immunological tests (iFOBT) are also very reliable. These tests detect invisible blood in the stool which is an indication that there are polyps in the colon. Both sensitivity and also specificity are significantly higher in the modern immunological tests than in the chemical stool tests.
|Colonoscopy||RIDASCREEN® Haemoglobin stool test|
|Insured persons with entitlement||Women age 55 and over, men age 50 and over||Age 50 and over|
|Recommended test interval||Every 10 years||Every 1-2 years|
|Procedure||Invasive exam conducted by the gastroenterologist||Easy stool sample conducted by the patient at home using a stool sampling set|
Hemoglobin and haptoglobin
The immunological tests are based on detecting hemoglobin in the stool. In addition, tests can also be done for haptoglobin, an important transport and acute-phase protein in the blood plasma. It is mainly produced in the liver and serves to bind and transport hemoglobin. Free haptoglobin is an important marker for clinical diagnostics: A low haptoglobin concentration may indicate a hemolysis, while an elevated value of the hemo-/haptoglobin complex indicates tumors or inflammations.
Combined testing of hemoglobin and hemo-/haptoglobin complex has several advantages for colon cancer prevention:
- The hemo-/haptoglobin complex is comparatively stable compared to acids and proteases. Therefore it can be detected in the stool even after longer intestinal passages, which increases the probability of detecting admixtures of blood from larger colon polyps and colon carcinomas situated further up.
- In contrast to the chemical stool test, the immunological hemoglobin test is insensitive to vitamin C and meat, so that prior consumption does not cause distortion of test results. Therefore following a special diet is not required.