Cologuard allows patients to test for colon cancer and other abnormal growths in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Cologuard Overview

Reviewed: August 21, 2014

Cologuard is a noninvasive colon cancer screening that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Cologuard identifies the presence of red blood cells and DNA mutations that may indicate the presence of certain kinds of abnormal growths that may be cancers such as colon cancer or precursors to cancer.

DNA continuously sheds from cells in the intestinal lining, where it is passed into stool. If cancer or precancer is present, abnormal cells will shed into the colon and stool along with normal cells. The test uses a molecular biology process to capture the DNA for further analysis.

Cologuard can be used by men and women 50 years of age and older who are at average risk for colon cancer. Discuss getting screened for colon cancer with your healthcare provider. Cologuard has to be prescribed by your healthcare provider and cannot be purchased over the counter.



Stool sample


Cologuard is noninvasive and easy to use in your own home. Cologuard does not require time off to prepare, dietary restrictions, or changes in medication.

Carefully read the instructions that come with the Cologuard collection kit prior to collecting the sample.

When collecting a stool sample, try to get a 'typical sample' for you. For example, if you normally have loose stool, go ahead and take the test. If you do not normally have loose stool, it is best to wait until the stool returns to its normal consistency. However, if you are sick and have diarrhea, you should not collect a sample.

Stool samples should be stored in the Cologuard collection kit at room temperature, and returned to the lab within 72 hours from the time of collection.

Turn-around time

Your test results typically will be sent to your doctor within two weeks of the lab receiving your sample.

What the results mean

Discuss a positive result with your doctor. Your doctor will probably order a diagnostic colonoscopy. Cologuard can produce some false positive results. In the clinical study of Cologuard, 13% of people without cancer or precancer tested positive.