Take Charge of Your Health: Colon Cancer Screening


Jason Sellers, MD

Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer worldwide, affecting millions of lives each year. Despite its prevalence, colon cancer is highly preventable and treatable, especially when detected early through screening. Let’s learn more about the various screening methods, which are recommended starting at age 45.

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, ranks as the third most common cancer, but can be effectively treated when detected early. Did you know that if you’re at least 45 years old, you could have your yearly colon cancer screening completed by tomorrow afternoon? Let’s delve into the significance of colon cancer screening and explore the various screening options available.

Colonoscopy: The Gold Standard

Colonoscopy stands as the gold standard for colon cancer screening. This procedure involves the insertion of a flexible tube equipped with a camera through the rectum, allowing for a comprehensive examination of the colon. Colonoscopy not only detects but also enables the removal of polyps or abnormal tissues during the procedure. Recommended every 10 years for average-risk individuals, colonoscopy offers both detection and treatment capabilities in a single session, making it a highly effective screening method.

Stool FIT Test: Convenience and Accessibility

For those hesitant about undergoing a colonoscopy or seeking a more convenient screening option, the Stool FIT Test provides a viable alternative. This non-invasive test, which is available at your local lab, allows you to collect stool samples at home and send them for analysis via mail. By detecting traces of blood in the stool, the FIT test can indicate the presence of colon polyps or cancer. While it offers convenience and ease of use, it’s important to note that FIT testing may miss some early-stage cancers, necessitating regular yearly screenings.

Stool DNA Test (ie, Cologuard): Enhanced Sensitivity

Stool DNA testing represents a newer approach to colon cancer screening, leveraging genetic markers to identify potential abnormalities. This test, typically recommended every 3 years, analyzes stool samples for both blood and altered DNA associated with colon cancer. While more sensitive than FIT testing, stool DNA testing may yield higher rates of false positives, underscoring the importance of follow-up evaluations, such as colonoscopy, upon a positive result.

Other Screening Options

Flexible sigmoidoscopy and CT colonography are additional screening tests available for colon cancer detection. These tests may be recommended for individuals who cannot undergo colonoscopy or prefer alternative screening methods. Discussing these options with your healthcare provider can help determine the most appropriate screening strategy for your individual circumstances.

Take Action for Your Health

Colon cancer screening is a critical component of preventive healthcare, offering the opportunity for early detection and intervention. Each screening method has its unique advantages and limitations, and you should discuss with your Radish doctor to determine the most suitable option for you. If you have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors, you may be eligible to start earlier than age 45 based on your personal and family history.

By prioritizing your health and staying proactive in the fight against colon cancer, you can take control of your well-being. And better yet, you could check this off of your list by tomorrow afternoon. The key is to initiate the conversation and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. You’re just one chat away from your Radish doctor. Remember, early detection saves lives.

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