Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Screening Guidelines
Avoiding certain risk factors and engaging in other protective factors
may help lower one's risk of colorectal cancer. Some of these risk
- Lack of regular follow-up and screening
- Being Overweight
- Consuming high amounts of red meat and/or drinking excessive alcohol.
- Not getting enough exercise or physical activity
There are some risk factors that we cannot change. The following risk factors
can put you at a higher risk for developing colorectal cancer:
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's
disease or ulcerative colitis
- A family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- A family history of genetically hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such
as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon
cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome)
Although you may not possess risk factors or may not be considered high
risk you should consult with your physician if you exhibit any of the
- Blood in your stool or during bowel movement or dark stool
- Change in bowel movement or feeing incomplete emptying
- Unexplained and unintentional weight loss
- Persistent diarrhea
- Change of stool caliber
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among men
and women in the United States. Each year more than 150,000 new cases
of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. However,
if the cancer is detected and treated while still at a localized stage
(Stage 1) the five-year survival rate can be greater than 90%.
The American Cancer Society recommends colorectal cancer screening for
those with an average risk of developing colorectal cancer beginning at
age of 50, and beginning at age 45 for African Americans. The frequency
of screening depends on the type of test done and the result. Those who
are considered to have an increased or higher risk of developing colorectal
cancer should begin screening before the age of 50 or more often based
upon the recommendations of their physician.
Types of Tests for Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colonoscopy is considered "The Golden Standard" when it comes
to screening for colorectal cancer and polyps. Screening recommendations
should be made by your physician who is best informed of your medical history.
Colonoscopy: The entire length of your colon is examined using a lighted tube called
a colonoscope. If your physician finds any polyps during this examine
he/she will be able to remove any polyp(s) found.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: The lower part of the colon (sigmoid) and the rectum are examined using
a sigmoidoscope which is a shorter lighted tube.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): Used to find blood in feces that cannot be visually seen. To properly complete
this test, there are drug and dietary restrictions for a few days prior
to collecting stool sample at home. Blood is detected in the test through
a chemical reaction conducted in a laboratory. If your FOBT results are
positive, it is important to follow-up with your physician for further
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): Used to find abnormal proteins in stool through reactions to proteins in
the red blood cells. There are no drug and dietary restrictions prior
to collecting the stool samples for this test at home. Similar to other
fecal tests, this test also requires further diagnostic testing if positive.
Double-Contrast Barium Enema: An x-ray procedure (also termed a lower GI) that takes place after barium
is instilled into the rectum and colon and then filled with air. This
procedure provides a detailed view of the outline of the colon and rectum,
and can also detect (but not remove) polyps.