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At-home cancer test kits help detect and screen for cancers in their early, more treatable stage, sometimes before a person shows any symptoms.
Cancer is the
However, a person can take steps to help prevent cancer and catch it early. Screenings and early detection can increase a person’s chance of receiving successful treatment and making a recovery.
This article compares at-home cancer test kits, explains how they work, and gives examples of some kits available for sale.
At-home cancer test kits contain instructions and collection materials so a person can collect and return a sample for testing.
Depending on the screening test, a person may need to collect urine, stool, saliva, a vaginal swab, or a blood sample.
These tests screen for cancer by looking at specific markers in the samples, like antibodies or gene mutations, that could indicate a person has a higher chance of developing a particular type of cancer.
Doctors may recommend some of these test kits for people at average risk of developing certain cancers.
Not all tests will be suitable for everyone. For example, some tests may not be best for people with a higher than average risk of developing certain cancers.
People can discuss the benefits and risks of at-home cancer test kits with a doctor. They will consider the best options based on a person’s risk category, personal history, and more.
An at-home test typically falls under one of three categories:
- Self-test: A person performs the entire process of collection and interpretation of results. Most of these tests give results within an hour or less.
- Self-collection test: A person collects the sample and sends it to the laboratory for analysis. Results are sent to the person electronically.
- Home-ordered tests: A person orders a test online or over the phone, but the sample collection and analysis occur in a laboratory.
A person who wishes to take an at-home cancer test should talk with a doctor about their concerns and ask which test may best fit their needs. They may also want to consider the following factors before making a purchase:
- Quality standards: A person should verify that the company runs its tests in laboratories that meet high quality standards. To be sure, look for companies that perform their tests in CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified labs.
- Business credibility: A person should look for brands known to be trustworthy in producing and handling at-home tests. A person can get insight into the legitimacy and credibility of a business by checking websites like Trustpilot and BBB and reading customer reviews.
- Clarity of information and instructions: At-home tests should have clear and complete instructions to reduce the risk of errors and specimen mishandling.
- Additional support: Since many at-home tests require an individual to perform the test independently, it can be helpful if the company has 24-7 support and offers assistance during testing.
- Consultations: Some companies offer a free consultation where medical practitioners discuss the test result and provide actionable insights and guidance on next steps.
- Privacy: People should look for companies that are HIPAA compliant to ensure their health data privacy. They may also want to check whether the brand delivers its products in discreet packaging.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Best test with subscription
Everlywell has more than 30 at-home tests on their website.
The fecal immunohistochemical test (FIT) for colorectal cancer (CRC) checks for hidden blood in a stool sample to catch colorectal cancer early and determine other causes of gastrointestinal bleeding. This test is for people ages 45 years and older.
Cost: $49 or $24.99 with membership
- free shipping
- accepts payment via FSA/HSA
- offers physician outreach for positive results
- easily shareable digital results
- has a higher one-time cost compared to others
- averages 2 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot (out of 20 reviews), with many customers claiming it was a “scam”
Best for convenience
The brand claims to be the No. 1 selling colon screening test in North America and claims a person is less likely to misinterpret their test. Pinnacle Biolabs has no rating on Trustpilot.
The test is FDA cleared to detect colon and rectal cancer as well as conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- FDA certified
- free domestic shipping and a flat rate of $16 for international orders
- offers a full refund for the return of unopened kits within 10 days
- no customer support listed
Best overall experience
iDNA claims that their HPV test is 99.9% accurate. The test checks for 14 high risk HPV types and offers a free retest if the first test turns out positive. Moreover, it has a 4.2 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot based on 251 reviews.
- FDA cleared
- offers various delivery options
- offers a free retest in the event of a positive result
- has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- no support
- expensive compared to other options
Best actionable report
A prostate cancer screening test checks for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. A person receives a digital report that includes easy-to-understand visuals.
The test also indicates a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer and provides tips on talking to a healthcare professional and tracking their health progress over time.
Primary care physicians commonly perform PSA tests as part of routine health maintenance in men over the age of 50 years.
imaware has an excellent rating (4.5 out of 5) on Trustpilot based on 172 customer reviews.
- low cost
- accepts payment via FSA/HSA
- comes with an actionable digital report
- no support
See the table for a comparison of the four at-home cancer screening tests in this article.
|Test||One-time price||Certifications||Type of test||Collection method||Results|
|Everlywell||$49||CLIA certified and CAP accredited||self-collection||stool sample||within days|
|Pinnacle Biolabs||$29.99||FDA certified and CLIA certified||self-test||stool sample||within 5 minutes|
|iDNA||$88||HIPAA compliant, CLIA certified, and CAP accredited||self-collection||urine sample (males) and vaginal swab (females)||2 to 7 days|
|imaware||$69||CLIA certified and CAP accredited||self-collection||blood sample||7 days|
Many cancers can be successfully treated when caught early. The
Since many types of cancer do not present early symptoms, at-home cancer screening kits check for markers that can indicate whether a person has cancer.
Tests can detect chemicals that cancer cells produce even before symptoms appear. A person should follow up with their doctor about any positive results.
A doctor can then confirm the results, make a diagnosis, and start intensive treatment early, increasing a person’s chance of complete remission.
People should also follow up on results that are “uninterpretable,” unclear, or difficult to understand.
On the other hand, PSA tests can miss around 15% of cancer cases, and 3 of 4 people with raised PSA levels will not have cancer. In contrast, a genomic profiling assay like FoundationOne Liquid CDx was found to be
Home tests can be accurate, and they may also encourage more people to undergo screening. A 2018 study found that at-home testing improved people’s participation in HPV screening.
A 2021 study found that women prefer self-sampling over Pap testing for cervical cancer screening. A similar
A person can choose from several at-home cancer screening tests to screen for different types of cancers. Many people prefer these tests due to their ease of use and convenience.
While most tests are readily accessible, people who want to get screened should first talk with their doctor to learn their options and the best course of action.