Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that regular screening for colorectal cancer should start from the age of 50. Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer have a higher risk and should start screening from the age of 40 or 10 years before the age their family member was diagnosed. Regular screening is vital because colorectal cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms. Therefore, regular screening is the only key to prevent it. Screening can find precancerous polyps, which is an abnormal growth in the colon or rectum and can be removed before they turn into cancer. Colorectal cancer when detected early, is treatable.
There are several tests used to screen colon cancer including:
People who are 45 or older should start getting screened for colorectal cancer.
Colonoscopy: In this test, a doctor examines the rectum and entire colon using a colonoscope, a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera at the end. The test usually takes about 30 minutes. Colonoscopy should be done once every 10 years or more often if recommended by your doctor.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This is a simple, affordable, non-invasive test you can do in the privacy of your own home. You can take the sample of your stool at home and submit it to a lab for testing. The test looks for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of polyps and colorectal cancer. FIT is an easy test. It does not require medicinal or dietary restrictions. FIT should be performed once a year.
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