- Did you know that colorectal cancer....
- ... is the nation's second leading cancer killer), even though
the disease is more than 90% curable when detected early.
Alaska Natives have the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Colorectal cancer afflicts men and women almost equally.
- Who should be screened?
- Anyone age 50 or older, or
People younger than 50 who have had any of the following :
ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease
cancer of the breast, ovary, or endometrium
a mother, father, sibling, or child with colorectal cancer
a family history of genetic colorectal cancer or polyps.
- What screening options are there for colorectal cancer?
- 1. Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
2. Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
3. Yearly FOBT or FIT together with flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years**
4. Double contrast barium enema every 5 years
5. Colonoscopy every 10 years
** The combination of FOBT + flexible sigmoidoscopy, or FIT + flex sig is preferred over either test alone.
- What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
- Unfortunately, people with colorectal cancer often do not have symptoms until it's too late.
Sometimes they notice:
Bleeding from the rectum
A change in bowel movement pattern that continues over time
General abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, cramps, bloating or fullness)
If you have any of the above symptoms, a colonoscopy is recommended because of its higher accuracy over other screening methods.
- What is an Endoscopy?
- The use of a thin, lighted tube containing a camera (called an endoscope) to examine the inside of the body. For example: gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy.
- What is a Fecal Occult Blood Test?
- A Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a chemical test looking for trace amounts of blood in the stool or feces--even when you cannot see the blood.
Stool samples are taken at home on 3 separate days. The samples are then sent to a lab for testing. Some medicines and foods can affect the test results, and thus may need to be avoided. A positive FOBT requires further evaluation with a colonoscopy.
- What is a FIT test?
- A FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) is a more accurate take-home card-based stool screening test for colon cancer than the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). It is another option for screening within the privacy of your home.
Unlike the FOBT, the FIT requires no special dietary restrictions. Either the FOBT or the FIT should be done annually if home screening is chosen instead of periodic colonoscopy.
- What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
- Using a small camera at the end of a slender, flexible, lighted tube, the physician uses the attached camera to look inside the rectum and the lower colon. If suspicious areas are found, a full examination of the colon must be done (colonoscopy) since more than just the lower colon might be involved. A bowel prep is required for this procedure.
- What is a Double Contrast Barium Enema?
- A patient is given a barium enema, followed by an insufflation of air. The air presses the barium against the colon walls and provides a silhouette outline of the bowel on x-ray. If an abnormality is found, then a colonoscopy is needed for further evaluation. A bowel prep is required for this procedure.
- What is a Colonoscopy?
- Using a small camera at the end of a slender, flexible, lighted instrument called a colonoscope, a doctor looks at the inside walls of the entire colon. If abnormalities are found, they can be removed or biopsied during the same procedure. A bowel prep is required for this procedure.
- What is an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)?
- Using a small camera at the end of a slender, flexible, lighted tube, the doctor can look inside the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. In the esophagus, reflux esophagitis, Barrett's Esophagus (pre-cancerous), and esophageal cancer can be diagnosed. Ulcers may be seen in the stomach and duodenum. Biopsies can be taken to look for Helicobacter Pylori infection, inflammation, and other microscopic abnormalities and cancer.