It's time to look at one of the big health issues for both men and women that can possibly be prevented by a simple screening. Colorectal cancer is one of the major cancers that affects a large number of men and women, in fact 72% of cancers occur in the colon.
Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. These polyps can be in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. The best way to catch these polyps is with early detection screening. There are several types of screening and it's best to discuss which one is right for you.
Types of Screening Tests
It's recommended that adults aged 50–75 be screened for colorectal cancer. If you are aged 76-85, ask your doctor if you should be screened. There are a few different screening tests that can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. They include:
Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT): uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in stool.
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. You receive a test kit from your health care provider.
FIT-DNA Test (or Stool DNA test): combines the FIT with a test to detect altered DNA in stool.
For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.
Similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.
CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)
Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon. The images are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are 50 or older, getting one of these colorectal cancer screenings could save your life. So it's time to ditch the fears of being checked and live a longer and fuller life at home with your family.