Stool DNA testing is intended to screen healthy people with no symptoms for colon cancer or precancerous polyps. The test also measures blood in the stool. Research shows the stool DNA test is effective at detecting colon cancer and precancerous polyps.
How stool DNA testing works
The stool DNA test detects signature DNA changes in tumor cells that are found in the stool.
Because the lining of the colon is always shedding cells, including cells from the surface of polyps and cancers, these markers are available in the stool. A stool DNA test can identify several of these markers, indicating the presence of precancerous polyps or colon cancer.
Many different DNA changes may be present in colon cancer cells, so the stool DNA test looks for a panel of DNA markers. Also, because DNA markers may be present in only tiny amounts in stool, very sensitive laboratory methods are required.