Testing for Colon Cancer Could Save Your Life—So What is Stopping You?
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness MonthThe disease, the most deadly form of cancer among non-smoking men and women, will result in, according to Cancer.org, and CancerResearchUK.org –
- About 50,300 deaths occur from colorectal cancer in the USA
- About 15,659 in the UK in 2011
more than . Over the past decades, public figures like Katie Couric, Sharon Osbourne, Dennis Franz and President Bush have helped raise the profile of colon cancer and the importance of regular screening for the disease, similar to a Pap Smear screening for cervical cancer. However, despite the increased publicity about cancer screening, people who are at risk for the disease aren’t necessarily being screened— due both to the inaccurate or invasive nature of some screening methods. Fortunately, advances in screening technology may soon allow people to test for the disease painlessly, in the privacy of their own homes. In order to effect change in the death rate, the public must understand the urgent need to screen for the disease.
It is imperative that adults ages 50 and over understand the facts about colorectal cancer screening. The reasons for this are simple: first, colorectal cancer is a highly curable disease if detected early. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), survival rates for colorectal cancer are as high as 95 percent if it is detected early.
Second, screening rates among adults 50 and older are surprisingly low. Education about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening, therefore, is absolutely vital.
The death rate from the disease is remarkably high, due in large part to the fact that more than two-thirds of colorectal cancer cases are caught at a later stage, when the survival rate is less than 50 percent. The lack of impact screening has had on the death rate is largely attributable to the fact that current screening methods are invasive, costly and/or relatively inaccurate.
Colon cancer is certainly not a death sentence; if caught early, the disease is highly treatable. Therefore, adhering to the recommended screening and diagnostic practices is essential. The ACS currently recommends that beginning at age 50, both men and women begin following a screening regimen for colon cancer. The ACS screening guidelines currently include a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) annually, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, and a colonoscopy, which is considered the gold standard in colon cancer diagnosis, every 10 years. Anyone at risk for the disease should discuss the best screening options for him or her with their physician.
Technological advances in screening may soon amend these guidelines significantly, particularly with a new non-invasive and accurate screening test EXACT Sciences believes that by removing some of the common barriers associated with current colon cancer screening methods, including invasiveness and discomfort, it will help to increase the incidence of testing and, thus, lower the mortality rate from colorectal cancer. remember the best defense against colon cancer is screening and early detection. It’s never too soon to ask your doctor about colon cancer screening, the latest advances in diagnostic tools, and about which test might be best for you.