Colorectal Cancer Screening More Than Just a Colonoscopy
The message from major health organizations is clear: if you’re 45 or older it’s time to get screened for colorectal cancer. For many, that brings to mind a colonoscopy, and a camera “up there,” but Nevadans have choices when it comes to colorectal cancer screening.
Annual at-home testing with newer FIT or stool DNA tests is one option that some people at average risk choose to screen for colorectal cancer. The easy-to-use, non-invasive tests can be done in a person’s own bathroom with no prep or sedation, and the completed kit is mailed to a lab for processing. The tests look for blood or cancer DNA in a person’s stool and are anywhere from 79-92% accurate in detecting colorectal cancers.
“Colorectal cancer screening has changed a lot in recent years, from new screening options to easier prep for colonoscopy,” Darcy Phillips, Nevada Cancer Coalition’s early detection programs manager, said. “It’s so simple to test at home these days it seems like the excuses to not screen for colorectal cancer have been eliminated. And for those that choose colonoscopy, it’s much easier than even our parents had it.”
Colonoscopy, the other screening exam, is still considered the gold standard by most doctors because of its ability to find growths in the colon before they become cancer. That procedure is done in a special center and requires sedation, several days of bowel prep, and a driver. The prep has become much easier over the years thanks to the use of laxatives and Gatorade – instead of the chalky liquid doctors used to prescribe. The bonus for people who are able to complete this exam is that it only has to be done once every 10 years.
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for adults of average risk ages 45 and older, or earlier for people with a family history of colorectal cancer. The importance of screening can’t be understated, either. Colorectal cancer is among the top cancer killers of men and women, but is treatable when diagnosed early.