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Prevention is the most effective way to reduce colon cancer deaths and screening is our most important tool in the fight. Excluding skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Colon cancer screening has proven its value in reducing the risk of death, however, there is still work to be done for approximately one in three people are not getting screened as recommended.
Thanks to the collective action and collaborative efforts of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) in the 80% by 2018 campaign, 5.1 million additional adults ages 50 to 75 have been screened for colon cancer. To further this work and build upon this success, the NCCRT is launching the next initiative called 80% in Every Community.
The Community Cancer Center will continue to support the 80% in Every Community initiative by promoting the importance of colorectal cancer screening. This includes building awareness at the local level about the types of screening and when to screen to all populations.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COLORECTAL CANCER?
Here are some symptoms of colorectal cancer from the American Cancer Society. Keep in mind, in the early stages of the disease, symptoms might not be present. Also remember, people who have these symptoms do not always have cancer.
If you experience any of them, go to your doctor so the cause can be found and, if necessary, treated:
• A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or
narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
• A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
• Rectal bleeding
• Dark stools, or blood in the stool
• Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
• Weakness and fatigue
• Unintended weight loss
WHY IS SCREENING IMPORTANT?
Early stages of colorectal cancer don’t usually cause symptoms, so proactive screening is one of the only ways to detect these types of cancers. Most colorectal cancers occur in people with no family history. Unfortunately, if you have had a close relative who has had the disease, your risk will be higher.
WHEN SHOULD I BEGIN SCREENING?
While some organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, suggest screening should begin at age 45, all major guidelines recommend screening for average-risk individuals start no later than age 50 and continue through at least age 75.
WHAT TESTS ARE AVAILABLE?
Approved tests include colonoscopy, stool tests (like guaiac fecal occult blood test [FOBT]), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), stool DNA, CT colonoscopy (sometimes called virtual colonoscopy) and sigmoidoscopy. Each test has different aspects to consider. For a detailed look at the different tests and what’s involved go to bit.ly/36WFp6b. Work with your doctor to select the one that’s right for you. The main thing to keep in mind is the best test is the one that gets done!