Both men and women above the age of 50 years are at risk for colorectal cancer, the risk increases more so with increasing age. Colorectal cancer is a leading cancer killer. There is strong scientific evidence that screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 can save lives!
WHAT IS COLORECTAL CANCER?
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control.
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 that connects the colon to the anus.
SCREENING SAVES LIVES
If you’re 50 or older, getting a colorectal cancer screening test could save your life.
• Colorectal cancer usually starts from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a small outgrowth that shouldn’t be there.
• Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
• Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
• Screening tests also find colorectal cancer in early stages, when treatment works best.
AM I AT INCREASED RISK of COLORECTAL CANCER
Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:
- You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
- You have inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer(HNPCC).
If you fall in the increased risk category, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often you should be tested.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COLORECTAL CANCER?
People who have polyps or colorectal cancer don’t always have symptoms initially. Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. If there are symptoms, they may include:
- Mucous and Blood in stool
- Altered bowel habit
- Recurrent Pains, aches, or cramps.
- Unwanted weight loss.
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer. However, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.
TYPES OF SCREENING TESTS
Fecal Occult Blood (gFOBT) / Fecal Immunochemical (FIT) test : used to detect invisible blood in stool.
How often: once a year.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (Flex Sig)
The a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum, and checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.
How often: Every 5 year.
Similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon.
How often: Every 5-10 year.
Dr Pinak Dasguptaconsultant
Dept. of Colorectal canceer