Screening for Colorectal Cancer

Screening for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Over 60% of those deaths can be prevented with regular screenings, according to recent statistics.

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What is a screening?

The goal of a screening is to detect cancer early, so that it can be taken care of early. Treatment will be harder the later the cancer is detected. This is because the more likely it has developed into a stage that is more detrimental to your health.

Screenings are designed to be conducted before the patient has any symptoms of the disease. Because of this, screenings decrease the risk of developing a late stage cancer.

Colorectal cancer progresses through many stages, which you can see below. These images do a great job of reiterating exactly why you want to get your preventative screening completed, so that you detect the cancer early.

In its earliest stage and has not spread beyond the inner layer (mucosa) of the colon or rectum.
Cancer is found in the mucosa and has spread beyond the inner layer of the colon or rectum to the submucosa but has not spread to the lymph nodes.
The cancer has spread beyond the layer of muscle surrounding the bowel and reached the outermost layers of the colon or rectum and surrounding areas, but has not spread to the lymph nodes.
It spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to distant organs.
The cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes and organs throughout the body.

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for people starting at age 45 and continuing until age 75.

There are two screenings tests most commonly used for these screenings.

The Fecal Immunochemical Test, also called the Fit test or the F-O-B-T test, should be completed yearly.

This screening method uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. To complete this screening, the patient needs to supply a stool sample to their provider for testing.

FIT Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening

If this test comes back positive for blood, a colonoscopy is typically performed next.

A colonoscopy is the most sensitive test currently available. In this test, a doctor inserts a longer, thin, flexible lighted tube into the colon. This is to check for polyps or cancer inside of the rectum and the entire colon.

Colonoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Screening

During this test, the doctor can find and remove any polyps or cancers that are found.

Colonoscopies should be completed every ten years for people with normal risk for developing colorectal cancer.

People with increased risk of colorectal cancer should discuss their screening plan with their doctor to determine what is best for you.

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