Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death for men from cancer in Canada. Thankfully, if detected early through regular screening, it can be cured 90% of the time. One in 14 men is expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime and one in 29 will die of it. Regularly screening is critically important, as there are virtually no symptoms in its early stages, when the disease is most treatable. Today, Novus will help you develop a basic understanding of colorectal cancer along with associated best practices.
How Often Should I Check?
The guidelines for colorectal cancer screening vary by age. According to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, colorectal cancer screening for adults of average risk should start at age 50, as the risk is low prior to age 50. For adults between age 50 to 74, ONE of the following two approaches should be used:
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT), every two years
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every ten years (usually used as follow up if stool test is positive)
If you have a first degree relative (parent, sibling, grandparent etc.) who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a known inherited genetic abnormality capable of causing the disease such as Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), or an inflammatory bowel disease, amongst other factors, consider early screening.
What Are FIT and FOBT Tests?
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) involve tests of a stool sample. These tests help identify polyps early before they become cancerous by detecting amounts of blood invisible to the naked eye. Often, cancerous lesions and polyps bleed. While a positive test result for blood in stools does not necessarily indicate colorectal cancer, follow-up tests may include a colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema and sigmoidoscopy.
What are Sigmoidoscopy and Double Contrast Barium Enema Tests?
Colonoscopies and flexible sigmoidoscopies both allow for the colon to be visually examined by a doctor for the presence of any polyps or cancerous lesions that may indicate colorectal cancer. In both cases, the colon must be completely cleaned out before the test and sedation is often required. A lubricated flexible tube with a light and a small video camera at the end is then inserted into the anus for visual inspection.
A double contrast barium enema test is an x-ray of the entire colon. The test takes about half an hour to complete, and requires the colon to be completely cleaned out. During this test a mixture of air, barium and water will be put into your colon through a tube placed in the rectum. As the barium travels the length of the colon your doctor will be able to see polyps or other suspicious finds.
Following the proper procedures for colorectal cancer screening will help you minimize your risk of colorectal cancer.
Today’s overview was just an introduction to colorectal cancer. For comprehensive information, you’re already in the right place.Visit Novus here! We wish you the best of health!