Articles for Our Patients ~ Ivy Tuason, RN, MSN, FNP

Why Should You Care? - Colorectal Cancer Screening

Author: Ivy Tuason, RN, MSN, FNP • Language: ENG

Why screen for colorectal cancer?
• Estimated new cases of colorectal cancer in 2009 in United States:
106,100 colon cancer and 40,870 rectal cancer.
• Estimated deaths from colon and rectal cancer in the United States in
2009: 49,920 colon and rectal combined.
• Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States of all cancers affecting men and women.
• Overall, the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19.
• Colorectal cancer can be prevented and screening SAVES lives.
   - With screening, doctors can find and remove precancerous polyps or abnormal growths.
   - These polyps can be present and undetected in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops.
   - Colorectal cancer treatment is highly effective when it’s found early.
• Many insurance plans, including Medicare, help pay for colorectal cancer screening.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Colorectal Cancer screening is UNDERUSED:
• Screening for colorectal cancer lags far behind screening for breast and cervical cancers.
• Findings from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which is administered by CDC, indicate that in 2000, only 42.5 percent of U.S. adults age 50 or older had undergone a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy within the previous 10 years or had used a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) home test kit within the preceding year.
• Because screening rates are low, less than 40% of colorectal cancers are found early • As many as 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly.
Who needs to be screened?
• Everybody who is in their 50s and older should be screened.
• People who are at higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests before age 50.

What are the available Colorectal Cancer screening methods?
The following screening tests are recommended by the US Preventive Task
1. Fecal Occult blood test (FOBT):
   a. Sometimes precancerous and cancers bleed that can only be seen through a microscope.
   b. Small samples of stool are placed on a special card and returned to the doctor or the laboratory to see if blood is             present.
   c. Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), uses antiboddies to detect blood in the stool.
   d. How often? Every year.
2. Sigmoidoscopy:
   a. This is a procedure that allows your doctor to directly look inside your rectum and sigmoid. Sigmoid colon is the lower       part of your colon.
   b. Your doctor will use a sigmoidoscope which is thin-tube like instrument with a light and lens at the end for direct             visualization. If there are abnormal growths, polyps or findings; your doctor may also remove or take tissues samples to       send to the laboratory to check for presence of cancers.
   c. How often? Every five years.
3. Colonoscopy
   a. This is a procedure that allows your doctor to directly look inside your rectum and your colon.
   b. Your doctor will use a colonoscope; a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and lens at the end for direct visualization.       It has a tool to remove abnormal growths, polyps and get tissue samples that will be sent to laboratory to test for             signs of cancer.
   c. How often? Every 10 years

Other screening tests available, in use or being studied:
Double Contrast Barium Enema: The double-contrast barium enema (DCBE) is also called an air-contrast barium enema or a barium enema with air contrast. It is basically a type of x-ray test. Barium sulfate, which is a chalky liquid, and air are used to outline the inner part of the colon and rectum to look for abnormal areas on x-rays.
Virtual Colonoscopy: Is a procedure that uses a series of x-rays called computed tomography (CT scans) to make series of picture of your colon.
Pictures with detailed images of the colon may show polyps or anything else that seems unusual on the inside surface of the colon.
DNA Stool Test: This test checks DNA in stool cells for any genetic changes that may be sign of colorectal cancer.

Partner with your doctor, to ask the following questions about screening:
• Which tests do you think is best for me and why?
• Is it covered by my health insurance plan? If not, what are my options?
• Are the tests painful?
• How soon after the tests will I learn the results?

Help us save lives! Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening today and tell your love ones, friends and family about colorectal cancer screening.

Editors Note: The GI Cancer program at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center is dedicated to enhancing each patient’s experience. We offer access to a coordinated, multidisciplinary care that provides the most current, effective and compassionate care. We hope not only to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction but to also find colon cancer earlier, creating greater opportunities for successful treatment results. Our dedicated GI coordinator can answer any other questions you may have. We know that asking about testing isn’t always easy, so pick-up the phone and call (909) 865-9903 and we will listen.

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