Monroe, LA - West Monroe, LA - Ruston, LA
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Colon Cancer Screenings

Screening for Life

The Gastroenterology Clinic wants to remind you of the importance of screening for colorectal cancer. Prevention is the key to saving lives. Please take a moment to read the information below and if you meet any of the criteria, we encourage you to see your Gastroenterologist or family physician.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway connecting the colon to the anus.

The Second Leading Cancer Killer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. but if everyone 50 or older had regular screening tests, at least one third of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.

Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer occurs most often in people age 50 and older. Both men and women can get colorectal cancer. The risk increases with age.

Are You at High Risk?

Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease. Speak with your doctor about having earlier or more frequent tests if you think you're at high risk for colorectal cancer.

Screening Saves Lives

If you're 50 or older, getting a screening test for colorectal cancer could save your life. Here's how:

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn't be there.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests can find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when the chance of being cured is good.

What Are the Symptoms?

People who have polyps or colorectal cancer don't always have symptoms, especially at first. So someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. But if there are symptoms, they may include:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
  • Stomach aches, pains, or cramps that happen frequently and you don't know why.
  • A change in bowel habits, such as having stools that are narrower than usual.
  • Losing weight and you don't know why.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. However, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.


Insurance Coverage

Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you.


Types of Screening Tests

Several different screening tests can be used to test for polyps or colorectal cancer. Each can be used alone. Sometimes they are used in combination with each other.

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) or Stool Test - A test you do at home using a test kit you get from your health care provider. You put stool samples on test cards, then return the cards to the doctor or a lab. This test checks for occult (hidden) blood in the stool.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (Flex Sig) - A test in which the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer in the rectum and lower third of the colon. Sometimes a flex sig is used in combination with the FOBT.

Colonoscopy - This test is similar to a flex sig, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer in the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.

Colorectal Screening Saves Lives

Screening Definition Begin
Screening
Surveillance if Negative Alternative Strategy
Average Risk Persons age 50 and older are at average risk, no factors for colorectal cancer other than age. Age 50
Age 45 for African Americans
Colonoscopy every 10 years

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or
CT colonoscopy every 5 years
if patient declines preventative
recommendations: FIT annually
(preferred) or Hemoccult Sensa or fecal DNA

Moderate Risk Single first degree relative with history of colorectal cancer or advanced adenoma diagnosis before age 60 Age 40 or 10 years prior to age of family member's diagnosis Colonoscopy every 5 years  
Moderate Risk Single first degree relative with history of colorectal cancer or advance adenoma diagnosis after age 60 Age 50
Age 45 for African Americans
   
High Moderate Risk 2 or more first degree relatives with colorectal cancer or advanced adenoma Age 40 or 10 years prior to age of family member's diagnosis Colonoscopy every 5 years  
Higher Risk Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Age 10-12 years then every 12 months until age 35-40 if all exams have been negative Annual Flexible Sigmoidoscopy if positive genetic test, possible colectomy  
  Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (Lynch Syndrome) Age 20-25 years or 10 years prior to youngest case Colonoscopy every 1-2 years  
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Pancolitis over 8 years Colonoscopy with biopsy every 1-2 years    
  Left sided colitis over 12-15 years Colonoscopy with biopsy every 1-2 years    


*First degree relatives include mother, father, brother, or sister.

Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Screening
used by permission of the American College of Gastroenterology.