Question about Cologuard

I’m a few months overdue for my first screening colonoscopy. Doing my best to avoid COVID exposure, so my doc agreed that since I was low risk, I could use the Cologuard at-home test. He ordered it for me, it arrived last week, and I did it earlier this week. The process briefly, is thus:

#1: Poop in the included bucket.
#2: Take grooved wand from the included vial, scrape on poop to fill said grooves, and place wand back in vial.
#3: Pour included bottle of “preservative” in bucket of poop, and then close/seal lid.
#5. Put wand/vial back in box, and also put bucket of poop in box. Return box to sender.

Overall it probably beats an actual colonoscopy in terms of convenience and comfort, but it was pretty gross; an open-air bucket of poop really stinks up the bathroom. If I ever do it again, I’ll wear a respirator with organic-vapor cartridges.

So my question is this:
It appears the grooved wand in the vial is the actual sample that they test. But if that’s the case, then why did I also send them a bucket of poop? Was that just a courtesy on their part, so I didn’t have to scrape poop out of a bucket and then discard an odiferous bucket in my own trash? Or do they actually do something with that?

You may have been confused as to the instructions. Aside from the initial small sample that includes the stabilizer, they instruct one to include a secondary (small) sample of the same BM. They definitely do not request that you submit the entire bowel movement as requisite for their procedure.

It took this to make you aware that your shit does in fact, stink?

My assumption was that they perform more than one test, and one of those tests requires a little bit of poop untainted by the stabilizer. I could be wrong but it makes sense.

I wish they’d take the giant logo off the return box, it felt weird giving an identifiable box of shit to the Fed-Ex guy.

Imagine being on the staff responsible for processing all of those incoming shipments at Cologuard.

Yeah, like all those other laboratories processing body fluids…Eeeuwww.

I have done it a few times and only had to return the small sample. But the kits I had just floated a paper on the water.


After reading the Cologard instructions, the definitely do want you to submit a larger stool sample in addition to the scraped sample.

The reason for this is likely that the scraped sample is used for an assay that is incompatible with the preservative fluid added to the larger sample.

I understood the instructions: they said that what you put in the bucket should be no larger than the amount of preservative liquid in the included bottle. Which, yes, is less than the total volume of a typical BM. The thing that caught my eye was that while they set an upper bound for bucket contents, they didn’t set a lower bound. In theory, I could have delivered an uncommonly small BM into the bucket, and it would have been consistent with the instructions. This seemed odd to me.

It’s been nearly thirty years since I took a dump anywhere other than in a toilet with water in the bowl, and I guess I had forgotten how potent open-air feces is when it’s a mere two feet from your face. Prompt submersion of fecal material put limits on its odor-generating potential in a way that the Cologuard procedure doesn’t.

Agreed. I put some thought into how I carried into the UPS store (so as to obscure it a bit), and then just hoped the clerk wasn’t particularly familiar with the logo.

From FedEx’s POV don’t you think they’d want to know which boxes contain biohazards and which don’t? Proper labeling for shipping that kind of stuff is important. Partly for normal day to day handling, but especially for situations involving emergencies.

Yes, but I don’t think you need a giant logo on the box to accomplish that.
They could send a plain box with a biohazard sticker.

It may not be a big deal, and I don’t think it’s a serious enough factor to make anyone decide not to use the product, but I was seriously uncomfortable standing in line with that box.

And I could saved the trip to the Fed-Ex store by just handing the box to a Fed-Ex guy on the street - I saw a couple of them at their trucks when I was walking to the Fed-Ex store, but I really couldn’t bring myself to approach them and hand them a box of crap. As neutral as it was, it still felt disrespectful.

IIRC, their preferred common carrier is UPS.

It wasn’t lost on me: “What can brown do for you ?”


When we had babies, we used a diaper service. Like many people with diaper service, we sometimes used disposable diapers when we would be away from home and the diaper bucket. One day, we got a note with the clean diapers urging us to use cloth diapers even when away from home. “Just drop the dirty diaper in a plastic bag and tie it shut, then drop the seal bag in the diaper bucket when you return home. Our diaper counters will remove the diaper from the plastic bag…”

Someone’s job is handling and individually counting stale, week-old dirty diapers. If you think fresh shit stinks…

Have I even mentioned that I love my job?

Mike Rowe did a “Dirty Jobs” episode at a diaper service. He also did an episode where they collected dirty diapers from a day care center, and sent them to a company that designed odor-proof packaging, and this was one of the things they used to test it.

I did a Cologard a few years ago, and had to do it over because I sent too big of a specimen in the bucket. The people at the UPS office said that not a day goes by that someone doesn’t bring one of those boxes in.

My wife works in a major veterinary lab. Their lab alone processes several hundred specimens a day (blood, poop, urine, tissues) a day. Multiply that by the 30 plus labs around the country. Their sole long-distance delivery is via FedEx. Now consider other animal labs, and human labs all over the country. That’s a lot of shit flying cargo, probably right next to your gourmet popcorn gift to Grandma or that really nice headphones you need at home to telework. :slight_smile:

Weird. Here in Canada, I think they send the test to anyone over 65; but it’s just - abstain from red meat for 24 hours, then take two smears with a small stick from 2 different place on a stool in the toilet (put down a wad of toilet paper if you don’t make floaters… :slight_smile: )

The smears are just skid marks drying on something like a double-matchbook; this is then sent in a very well sealed puffy plastic envelope.

No vials, no chunks, no preservative, no buckets.

This reminds me about a true story.

There is an organisation in the UK that takes young people on “Tall Ships” as a way of encouraging their confidence, teamwork and give them a taste of adventure.

Before anyone can take part, a full medical is required and as part of that, they have to submit a stool sample to a private laboratory.

One year, a group of 18 to 25-year-olds were not given the usual small container for their samples. One can only imagine the scene when a queue of fit, healthy young people queued up at the fancy reception desk of the London clinic, each carrying a large turd in a plastic bag.

Same her in the UK, except the smears are taken from three separate stools and there is no mention of red meat.

Are you perhaps mixing up a plain “FIT test” with Cologuard? Cologuard is different. It’s not just a test for blood in the stool. It detects the DNA markers for precancerous and cancerous polyps.

I invested in the company a few years ago after reading up on their technology. Don’t I wish I had invested a lot more at that time! They’re also currently working on tests for other types of cancers using this same DNA marker detection technology.

In Ontario, it’s 50+ every 2 years and replaces the every 5 years colonoscopy. The test I did didn’t require any diet modification as they look for DNA signatures from precancerous cells.