Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Facts and Resources

Fordland ClinicNews

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is a slow-developing cancer that takes 10-15 years to develop. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The risk of developing CRC increases with age, and people with a family history of CRC or African Americans have a higher risk of developing the disease. Men also have a slightly higher risk of developing CRC than women.

When should I start testing?

The United States Preventive Task Force recommends that Colorectal Cancer Screenings should begin at age 45 due to the increasing number of patients being diagnosed before the previously suggested age of 50.

What types of tests are there?

Tests to check for colon cancer in stools include gFOBT (guaiac-based fecal occult blood test) and FIT test (fecal immunochemical test), which are done annually, and FIT-DNA test (Cologuard), which is done every three years. Tests involving a scope or camera being inserted into the colon include flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is done every five years, and colonoscopy, which is done once every ten years if normal. During the scope tests, most polyps and some cancers can be found and removed. A colonoscopy is also used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during stool tests.

Which test should I get?

Individuals with a history of CRC, colorectal polyps, or genetic syndrome should not get stool tests. The appropriate test depends on an individual’s preferences, medical condition, likelihood of getting the test, and available resources.

What happens if my stool test is positive?

If a stool test is positive, a diagnostic colonoscopy is needed to determine if CRC is present. Medicare/Medicaid and insurance coverages no longer charge for diagnostic colonoscopy, reducing the cost for individuals who require additional testing.

What happens if the doctor finds something during my colonoscopy?

If a doctor finds polyps or other abnormal spots during colonoscopy, they will remove them and send them to the lab for testing. If they cannot remove them, they will discuss this with the individual after the procedure.

Please call Fordland Clinic at 417-767-2273 for more information.