Colon Screenings Saves Lives; Recommendations Now Include Younger Adults

posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in Cancer

The month of March prompts us to start searching for signs of spring. Since March is also National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to search for signs of potential health concerns.

“Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, yet it doesn’t have to be as it can be prevented or detected at an early stage,” explained Colette Rossiter, assistant director of Spencer Hospital Community Health Services.  “Screening is very important because 7 out of 10 people with colon cancer have no symptoms. When discovered in an early stage, the five-year survival rate for colon cancer is 90 percent. With such good odds, why wouldn’t you want to get screened and assure your good health?”

Traditionally, colon screenings have been recommended to begin at age 50 for those at average risk.  However, recent statistics are showing an alarming increase in new cases of colorectal cancer among those less than 50 years of age, so the American Cancer Society now suggests adults at average risk to consider screening at age 45.  Those with family history or other risk factors may need to screen earlier and more frequently.

“Talk to your health care provider about when to screen and which test is right for you,” Rossiter encouraged.

The following screenings are available through Spencer Hospital:

  • Colonoscopy - Completed every 10 years. The advantage to this visual test is that it can locate polyps and remove them during the procedure before they have a chance to turn into cancer. 
  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – Completed annually after initial colonoscopy.  This stool test checks for hidden blood in the stool, which may be an early sign of colon cancer.  These screening kits are available at Spencer Hospital Women’s Health Center or Community Health Services for $5.00 each.  They are also available at Milford Family Care and Sioux Rapids Family Care.  The test is completed at home and mailed to the lab for resulting.  It’s easy, takes a very small stool sample, and doesn’t require any dietary restrictions.
  • Cologuard - Another type of screening that has recently become available is the stool DNA test (Cologuard®). Cologuard is available by prescription only and must be ordered by your healthcare provider. This screening is recommended every 3 years.

Contact your physician or general surgeon to schedule your colonoscopy. For more information about various health screenings, contact Community Health Services – Spencer Hospital at 264-6380.

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