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Colorectal Cancer Screening: The Choice Is Yours

Christina Hester, PhD, MPH

October 07, 2019

Have you been postponing your colonoscopy? Good news! You have a variety of options outside of this traditional screening method. If you’re like me, having options can make it easier to make the right healthcare decisions. And getting screened is the right healthcare decision. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. Here are a few screening recommendations:

  • Everyone between the ages of 50-75 should be routinely screened for colorectal cancer.
  • For colorectal cancer screening, people can choose to do simple tests at home once per year or clinical procedures once every 5 or 10 years in a clinical setting.

Tests that can be performed at home:

Fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) also referred to as a fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) are done at home once each year. After passing stool, a sample is put onto a card, which is mailed to a lab for analysis. If the test detects blood hidden in the stool, the patient will need a follow-up colonoscopy.

FIT-DNA stool tests are tests that can be performed at home every 1 to 3 years. Patients collect stool samples at home and mail them to clinical labs to be analyzed. If the test indicates a need for follow-up, the patient will require a colonoscopy.

Know your screening options

Tests performed in a clinical setting

A colonoscopy is a procedure performed by a physician in a clinical setting once every 10 years. A doctor puts a lighted camera in a tube inside a patient’s colon to view the inside of the colon. Suspicious growths are removed and checked by another doctor. Sometimes, removal of the growths can prevent cancer from developing. If a cancerous growth is detected by the procedure, the patient is referred for treatment.

Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure performed in a clinical setting once every 10 years with annual FIT/FOBT or every 5 years without FIT/FOBT. Sigmoidoscopy allows a physician to look at a select part of the colon where cancer is most likely to develop, rather than the entire colon. Based on sigmoidoscopy findings, patients may need to have a colonoscopy, surgery or other treatments determined by their physician.

Some people may be more likely to develop colorectal cancer, so you should talk to your doctor about the best test for you. However, everyone, even those with a lower risk for colorectal cancer, should be screened regularly. After looking at the tests above, find the one you think will work for you. Let your doctor know which test you prefer and choose to be screened. Remember, when it comes to colorectal cancer screening, you have a choice.

Screening: A national health priority

Increasing colorectal screening rates in the U.S. is a national priority and part of the 10 recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Panel for the Cancer Moonshot announced in October 2016. It is endorsed by the National Cancer Advisory Board.

In response to this, The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities at the National Cancer Institute developed the Screen to Save program, which promotes efforts to encourage screening to save lives and increase outreach, awareness and care provision in racially/ethnically diverse communities and rural areas

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is proud to be a part of this initiative by offering screening and education events throughout Kansas and Missouri.

Request your appointment today.

To make an appointment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, call 913-588-1227.

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