Colon cancer remains the third most common cancer in men and women. According to the American Cancer Society, treatment in its earliest stage can lead to a 90 percent survival rate after five years, but more than a third of adults who should be screened (ages 50–75 or younger with a family history) do not get the recommended screening. The top reasons patients give for skipping their screenings include:
- Lack of symptoms
- They dread the colonoscopy with its bowel preparation
- They don’t want to arrange a day off of work and a driver to get them home after a colonoscopy
- Providers can now offer more screening options to overcome these barriers, including:
- Annual fecal occult blood test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Computed tomography colonography every five years
- A stool DNA test every three years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
The new, non-invasive stool DNA test is good news for patients who dread undergoing a colonoscopy and have no personal history of pre-cancerous polyps, or colon or rectal cancer. This test checks for cancer by looking for certain gene changes that are sometimes found in colon and rectal cancer cells. The test also checks for blood in the stool which can indicate cancer. Best of all it can be done at home. No special diet or preparation is required. However, if the test comes back positive, the patient may then need to undergo a colonoscopy for confirmation and polyp removal.
Whichever test you choose, getting screened can save your life. Don’t put it off. Schedule your screening today.