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At-Home Stool Tests Boost Colon Cancer Screening

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Cheap, simple stool tests conducted by patients at home and mailed back to a lab may be one way to improve colon cancer screening rates among Americans, according to some experts.

In recent years, the emphasis has been on colonoscopy screenings. But many people are reluctant to undergo colonoscopy and, therefore, don't get any type of colon cancer screening, the Associated Press reported.

But when California health care giant Kaiser Permanente started mailing stool tests to patients, colon cancer screening rates rose from 40 percent to 75 percent, well above the national average of 55 percent for people over age 50. The stool tests cost about $20 each.

Kaiser and the Veterans Affairs health system, which also emphasizes stool tests, are being looked at by specialists for clues on how to improve colon cancer screening rates, the AP reported.

Each year, about 150,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 50,000 die from the disease, making it the No. 2 cancer killer. Proper screening could eliminate many new cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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