Regular colorectal cancer screening can prevent cancer can save your life
SUMMARY: Adults aged 50+ are at the greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer. Screening can find pre-cancers & early-stage cancers, which are easier to treat.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! So the editorial team here at HHN would like to take this opportunity to remind all Gen X-ers born in 1967 that it is time to make regular colorectal screening part of your healthy practices.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancers mean cancers that occur either in the colon or in the rectum. You may hear these cancers referred to as “colon cancer”. Precancercous polyps are growths in the rectum or colon that have the potential to turn into cancer.
Both men and women age 50 or older are at the highest risk of getting colorectal cancer and the risk increases as you get older.
Why is colorectal screening important?
You might be surprised to learn that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The saddest thing is that at least 60% of these deaths could have been avoided with proper screening.
Colon and rectal precancerous polyps and early-stage cancers often have no symptoms at first, when they are most easily treated. Regular screening can:
- Find precancerous growths so that you can have them removed before they turn in to cancer
- Find early-stage cancers when they are easier to treat and survival rates are high
What kind of screening tests are used?
Your doctor will recommend the test(s) he or she thinks is right for you. The common tests include:
- High-sensitivity stool test
These tests use a small sample of your feces to test for the presence of blood. (Blood in the stool is not always visible with the naked eye).
This test should be performed once a year.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
The doctor uses a thin, flexible lighted tube placed into your rectum to check for cancer or polyps in the lower third of the colon and rectum.
This test should be performed every five years.
This test also uses puts a flexible lighted tube to check for cancers in the rectum and through the entire colon. During this test, doctors can see and remove polyps and some cancers
This test should be performed every 10 years.
Other tests may also be used at your doctor’s request.
FROM THE HHN EDITORS:
Birthday boys and girls (50 and older), treat yourself to the gift of good health by scheduling a visit with your doctor to discuss colorectal cancer screenings. You could very well give yourself the gift of a longer life.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control, “Colorectal Cancer: Basic Fact Sheet”