Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. A screening test is used to look for a disease when a person doesn’t have symptoms. Screening can find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—so that they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.
Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. National guidelines for colorectal cancer screening include several screening test options. Recommended screening tests are: high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test once a year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, and colonoscopy once every ten years.
Some people are at an increased risk and may need to be tested earlier than 50. They include people with an inflammatory bowel disease, a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
In May 1982, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He died nine months later at the age of 56. That is what motivates my sister and me to be screened for colon cancer. Many people I know cringe at the thought of a colonoscopy, but I tell them the prep beforehand is much worse than the test itself.
If you are age 50 or older or if you think you may be at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your healthcare provider about getting screened. Getting screened could save your life.
BY: Patti Andrews, RN, BSN