The Best At-Home Colon Cancer Tests in 2020

Testing for blood in the stool can be done at a low cost and from your own home

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The colon (large intestine) is a key part of the digestive system. The large intestine is located after the small intestine in the digestive tract. This organ is about 6 feet long and as partially digested food moves through it, water is absorbed and fiber is further broken down.

The colon can be subject to various diseases and conditions, including colon cancer—which is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. It affects men and women equally and becomes more common as people age, but in recent years, people are being diagnosed younger and younger.

Screening for colon cancer is an important part of early detection and treatment. There are several different ways to do this, which include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, computed tomography, and stool tests. One of these stool tests, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), can now be done from home, which offers patients comfort and confidentiality.

An FIT detects blood in the stool. Blood in the stool that can’t be seen with the naked eye (called occult blood) can be a sign of several conditions, including hemorrhoids, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), and colon and rectal cancer. Colon polyps, which are the precursor to colon cancer, may bleed, and therefore blood in the stool may be a sign that polyps have developed. If an FIT test result is positive, meaning that there is blood in the stool, there should be a follow-up with a doctor to find out why there is bleeding.

Our Top Picks

Everlywell FIT Colon Cancer Screening Test: Best Overall

Everlywell

Everlywell

Pros
  • Option to work with a physician from the Everlywell network if the FIT returns a positive result

  • The Everlywell dashboard provides links to information about the test, colon cancer, and general wellness tips

  • Results given via dashboard can be downloaded to share with a health care provider

  • No restrictions on diet or medication prior to using the test

Cons
  • Pricier than other options

  • Requires handling stool in order to get a sample

  • The instructions may be confusing or difficult to follow

  • A stool sample must be mailed to a laboratory

Everlywell offers testing in a certified laboratory at a low price as well as access to a health care provider for additional support.

Everlywell was founded in 2015 and offers direct-to-consumer tests that are done in conjunction with laboratories. The company indicates that the labs with which it processes tests abide by industry standards such as being Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified and, in some cases, accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Everlywell provides other services along with the tests, including help in interpreting results, a consultation with a physician to discuss test results, and further information and resources about colon cancer. Consumers register their kit through the Everlywell website once they receive their materials in the mail.

The FIT is completed by taking a sample of stool using brushes (much like a small paintbrush) that are included with the kit. After a bowel movement, the surface of the stool is brushed for about 5 seconds. Any debris on the brush should be shaken off. The brush is then dabbed onto the test card so that only water is transferred. The procedure is repeated with a second brush. The sample is then placed into the specimen box and returned using the return envelope and shipping label.

The cost of the FIT from Everlywell is $49 and can be ordered through its website. The test may be discounted by signing up for an annual or semi-annual subscription. The cost of shipping is free, both to receive the test and to send it to the lab. Everlywell accepts payment from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Test results are returned in about five days.

Second Generation FIT Colon Cancer Test: Best for Rapid Results

Pinnacle BioLabs

Pinnacle BioLabs

Pros
  • Test is FDA-certified

  • No restrictions on diet or medication prior to using the test

  • Results are available within minutes

  • No bowel prep is needed to take this test

  • Test can be done completely at home; no need to send samples in the mail

Cons
  • Test requires handling of stool

  • Some patients report ambiguous results in tests

Available for purchase at many drug stores, this test provides results in minutes. Pinnacle BioLabs is a privately held company certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture various medical test kits for use at home. The company was founded in 2011 and started producing consumer tests in 2016. The FIT test can be ordered over-the-counter for use in testing for blood in the stool. Second Generation indicates that its test detects globlin (proteins found in blood) levels at 50 ng/mL (50 billionths of a gram) with 98% sensitivity and 96% specificity.

The test is done on stool. A collection tube that contains a wand attached to the cap comes with the test. Stool is collected by using the wand. The manufacturer suggests scooping stool off of toilet tissue. Once the stool is on the wand, it is placed back into the collection tube and screwed into place. Three drops of a solution that comes in the kit are added to the test cassette, and the test window will give results within 1 to 3 minutes. Two lines will appear for a positive test result (which means that blood is present in the stool) and one line will appear for a negative result. Some patients report ambiguous test results (such as a faint second line or discoloration in the test window).

One Second Generation FIT test costs around $25 and it can be ordered from the manufacturer or some drug stores. A kit with two tests can be purchased for around $30.

EZ Detect Stool Blood Test: Best Price

EZ Detect

EZ Detect

Pros
  • Test is FDA-certified

  • Test doesn’t require the handling of stool

  • Results are available within minutes

  • No restrictions on diet or medication prior to using the test

  • Test can be done completely at home without having to send samples in the mail

Cons
  • The test must be repeated for three different bowel movements

  • There is a potential for a false positive result

  • Some reviewers have reported false negatives

The least expensive and easiest option for testing at home that we found is Biomerica, Inc., founded in 1971. The company manufactures and markets tests for laboratories, physician's offices, and consumers, with offices in California and a production facility in Mexico. Its FIT test can be ordered over-the-counter for use at home to detect blood in the stool. Biomerica, Inc. indicates that its test will detect occult blood of as little as 2mg in 100ml of water.

The EZ Detect test is meant for use in testing the stool from one person. It comes with five test tissues, a positive control package, a patient instruction sheet, and a test result postcard. The test is done by first having a bowel movement. Next, one of the test tissues is placed into the toilet. The results of the test are available after 2 minutes. A positive result (meaning that there is blood present) will cause the test strip to appear an “unmistakable” blue-green color. The results are then recorded onto the postcard so that it can be shared with a physician either by mail or in-person.

One EZ Detect test kit is about $8 purchased from the manufacturer, plus shipping and handling. It is also found in drug stores or other online retailers. Multipack kits are also available.

LetsGetChecked Colon Cancer Screening Test: Best for Subscription

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked

Pros
  • Nurses available to discuss positive FIT results

  • Results provided via the LetsGetChecked website can be downloaded to share with a health care provider

  • No restrictions on diet or medication prior to test

  • To ensure privacy, test kits are delivered in plain packaging

Cons
  • Pricier than some other options

  • Test requires handling stool in order to get a sample

  • A stool sample must be sent in the mail to a laboratory

  • Samples can’t be returned on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday

Colon cancer testing should be completed at regular intervals, and LetsGetChecked makes subscribing easy and offers cost savings.

Founded in 2014 in Dublin, Ireland, the company launched its United States operation in 2017. Its website states that the labs with which it processes tests are CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited.

When ready to take a sample, the test first needs to be activated by logging into the LetsGetChecked website and entering the code that comes with the kit. After going to the bathroom, stool is collected from the toilet. The sample tube is unscrewed and the stick on the end of the cap is dipped into the stool until the end is covered. The stick is then placed back into the sample tube and the cap is screwed back on. The sample tube is then placed in the biohazard bag that came with the kit. The bag is put into the testing kit box, which is then mailed out in the prepaid return envelope provided. The sample should be returned the same day it is taken. Results are available in two to five days on a secure website.

In the event of a positive test result, a nurse from LetsGetChecked will call in order to discuss the next steps. Results can be checked via the website on a computer or a smartphone.

The cost of the FIT from LetsGetChecked is $69 and can be ordered through its website. The test may be discounted by signing up for a subscription on a three-, six-, or 12-month schedule or through discount codes that are offered intermittently. LetsGetChecked also accepts payment from HSAs and FSAs.

Pixel by LabCorp Colorectal Cancer At-Home Test: Best for Access to a Doctor

Pixel by LabCorp

Pixel by LabCorp

Pros
  • Results provided via Pixel website and can be downloaded to share with a health care provider

  • Includes access to independent physician partner group, PWNHealth

  • No restrictions on diet or medication prior to using the test

  • LabCorp is a well-established company

Cons
  • No directions how to take the test are provided on the website

  • This test is pricier than some other options

  • PWNHealth also receives test results, which may not be desirable for those who want privacy

  • A stool sample must be sent in the mail to a laboratory

While a more expensive option, Pixel stands out for offering access to its health care provider partner, PWNHealth, in order to help you understand results. LabCorp was founded in 1969 and is headquartered in Burlington, North Carolina. It provides diagnostic, drug development, and technology-enabled solutions. The company’s website states that the labs with which it processes tests are CLIA-certified.

The Colorectal Cancer At-Home Test is available for order on the Pixel website, but little information is available on the site regarding how the sample is collected. When ready to take a stool sample, the test needs to be registered by logging into the Pixel website and entering the bar code found on the kit. The kit should be returned the same day the sample is taken by scheduling a FedEx pickup or taking it to a FedEx dropbox.

Purchase includes the cost of physician services from PWNHealth. Test results can be checked via the Pixel website. In the event of a positive test result or one that requires prompt follow-up, the company may contact consumers by a phone call or email.

The cost of the FIT from Pixel is $99. Included in the price is access to independent physician services from PWNHealth LLC. Services from PWNHealth may cover the review of lab test results and other consultation services. Pixel by LabCorp also accepts payment from HSA and FSA accounts using a Mastercard or Visa.

What Is an At-Home Colon Cancer Test?

The FIT is a test that is done to detect blood in the stool. Colon polyps, growths in the large intestine that can lead to cancer, may bleed. This bleeding is not always visible, so it’s important to test for blood that’s in the stool but can’t be seen by looking in the toilet. Having blood in the stool, which an FIT can detect, could mean that polyps are present.

Why Would I Take an At-Home Colon Cancer Test?

Testing at home offers an inexpensive and quick option for those who want screening but are unable to receive it. While there are a variety of options for screening for colon cancer, most of them require seeing a physician and having tests done at a hospital or outpatient center. Some types of tests also require preparing beforehand, which means time off from work or school. In addition, even though colon cancer is being diagnosed in younger people, it may be difficult to receive a test from a physician for patients that don’t fall within the age range for screening.

Are At-Home Colon Cancer Tests Reliable?

There has been little research on tests that are available to purchase over-the-counter without guidance from a health care provider. However, an FIT can also be ordered by a physician and the sample can be collected either in the doctor’s office, at a laboratory, or (as is most often the case) at home. One meta-analysis looked at FIT done as ordered by a doctor. In people who were at average risk of colon cancer, the FIT found 91% of cancers. While this study didn’t look at the tests included on our list, it does show that doing a FIT every year may be accessible and effective for screening.

What Samples Do I Need to Send In for an At-Home Colon Cancer Screening?

For colon cancer screening with a FIT, a person’s stool needs to be tested. For some of the tests on our list, the screening is done entirely at home, with no samples to send in. One of these requires collecting a small amount of stool and the other does not. For the tests that are mailed to a lab, a small amount of stool and/or toilet water is collected and sent for testing using the tools in the kit.

What Does an At-Home Colon Cancer Test Include?

The at-home FIT is done in a variety of ways, depending on the test. One kit includes test strips that are placed in the toilet. Other kits include tools to collect stool (a scoop, brush, or stick) as well as instructions on how to collect the sample and return it. In cases where the sample is sent to a lab, there may be a card on which the sample is placed or a tube that contains a liquid to preserve the sample until it arrives for testing.

How Much Do At-Home Colon Cancer Tests Cost?

The FIT kits that are available to use at home have a wide range of costs. One brand can be found for under $10, while others can cost as much as $100. The lower-cost options are done at home, where test results are seen and understood by the consumer. The higher cost options include sending samples into a lab for testing and sometimes, also include the ability to talk with a nurse or a doctor about results.

Will My Insurance Cover At-Home Colon Cancer Tests?

Insurance might not cover the cost of a colon cancer screening test that’s done at home without a physician. Calling your insurance provider using the number on your insurance card is the best way to find out if the cost is covered. However, some tests may be paid for using funds from an HSA or an FSA account.

How We Chose the Best At-Home Colon Cancer Tests

Tests for colon cancer screening at home include a wide range of prices and services. Some of the major reasons for testing for colon cancer at home include cost, convenience, and privacy. We looked at all of these factors as well as the accuracy of at-home testing, ease of collecting a sample, and the support testing companies offered in the event of a positive result.

A Word From Verywell

The FIT, when done properly and at the correct intervals (usually a year), is one of the tests that is recommended to screen for colon cancer. There is no good evidence about the reliability of at-home tests that are done without going to a doctor. In the case that a FIT is positive (meaning that there is blood in the stool), a follow-up with a doctor to determine the next steps is critical. Medical professionals may or may not consider the at-home test to be reliable. We recommend you consult a doctor for interpretation of test results, confirmation of results, and advice regarding the best way to screen for colon cancer.

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