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Get Checked: Colonoscopy or Other Screenings May Help Head off Colorectal Cancer

The American Society of Clinical Oncology confirmed that there are more than a million colorectal cancer survivors in the U.S. today. The increase in colonoscopy screening and awareness explains the positive trend. However, only 55% of people who need colonoscopy screening have it done.

Early diagnosis improves the chance of recovery for the patient. If the doctor identifies polyps during screening, they remove them before cancer develops. Also, cancer treatment works better when the cancer is in its initial stages. The Colorectal cancer prevalence rate is above 130,000 per year. The cancer is the 3rdmost common cancer (nonskin) that affects women and men.

Reliable screening tests include:

  1. Stool tests
  • Multi-target stool DNA test -recommended after every three years
  • Fecal immunochemical tests – recommend annually
  • High sensitivity, guaiac fecal occult blood test – recommended annually
  1. Imaging and endoscopic examinations
  • CT colonography – recommended after every five years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – recommended after every five years
  • Colonoscopy – recommended after every ten years

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Anemia
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in stool
  • Persistent abdominal pain

Colonoscopy is the most reliable screening method for colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy specialist inserts a colonoscope (long, narrow, and flexible tube) in the body. The tool has a torch, so a doctor looks out for swollen or irritated tissues, polyps, cancer, and ulcers inside the colon.

Screening guidelines by the American Cancer Society:

  1. People should go for screening until you reach 75 years old. After 75 years, consult your physician for additional screening.
  2. People with a low or average risk of colorectal cancer should start screening at 45 years old.
  3. If you have a relative with colorectal cancer or at high risk, consult your physician for an aggressive screening test.
  4. Screening should be after every ten years if you have a relative with colorectal cancer.

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