The Centers for Disease Control says one in three US adults are not being screened for colon cancer, yet colorectal cancer is one of the top cancer killers. They say 66,000 colorectal cancer cases were prevented and 32,000 lives saved compared with the year 2002, and half of the lives saved were due to screenings. In 2007 142,000 Americans learned they had colon cancer and 53,000 died from it.
Screening can find the precancerous polyps and they can be removed before they become cancerous and spread. By 2020 CDC would like to have reached a colon cancer screening rate of 70.5% for American adults. If they can achieve that rate, they say an additional 1,000 deaths per year will be prevented.
They recommend the following tests:
- A fecal occult blood test (FOBT), done at home – every year.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy done by a health care provider – every five years (accompanied by FOBT every three years).
- Colonoscopy done by a health care provider – every 10 years.
People who should get screened more often are those between 50 and 75 years old, and anyone more at risk from getting intestinal disease because of polyps or a family history.
Some of the reasons CDC lists for why people don’t get screened are:
- Doctor didn’t tell them to do so
- Don’t have health insurance
- Didn’t know risk increases with age
- Fear of the test
- Fear the results will be positive
Deaths from colon cancer dropped very much in four northern states it was reported recently. Screenings for the disease played a role in the decrease, and lower screen rates have been in states with no change in colon cancer deaths, “Compared with other geographic areas, southern states have a larger proportion of the population that is poor and uninsured, among whom screening rates are lower.” (Source: Reuters)
Image Credit: Public Domain