Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and second most common cause of cancer related deaths worldwide as per World Health Organization.
Most of the times, Colon cancer starts as a small lump called “polyp (adenomatous)” inside the large intestine which may change and grow into a cancer over several years. Screening is the best way we can fight this cancer by finding it at early stages when treatment is simpler and chances for survival and cure are higher. Just like weed can destroy a garden if not controlled promptly, cancer can harm your body if not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion.
Image Source: CDC
Who should get screened?
Adults aged 50 to 75 years should be screened for Colon cancer. Screening for adults 76 years and older depends upon their overall health and prior screening findings. Those who are younger than 50 may need early screening if they have high risk for Colon cancer as per their genetic or family history. Also, there are some studies that suggest starting regular screening around age 45 as many adults are diagnosed with this cancer in their 40s.
What are the screening options?
Colonoscopy – endoscopy to thoroughly check the entire large intestine (every 10 years if negative)
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) stool test (every 1 year if negative)
FIT + DNA based stool test (every 3 years if negative)
Less common procedures/tests:
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (screens portion of the large intestine) with or without stool test (every 5 years if negative)
CT Colonography (special CT scan to see colon structure) (every 5 years if negative)
Anyone with abnormal stool test, Sigmoidoscopy or CT Colonography should undergo complete diagnostic Colonoscopy to make sure there is no cancer or other abnormal finding.
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