Do I Need Colorectal Cancer Screenings?

Not including skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in American adults. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer this year. Knowing your risk and when to start screening for colorectal cancer could be lifesaving.

What Is The Average Colorectal Cancer Risk?

People who fit the following criteria are considered to be at average risk for colorectal cancer:

  • No personal history of:
    • Colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Radiation treatment for cancer within the abdominal or pelvic areas
  • No family history of colorectal cancer
  • No hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome (e.g., familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome)

What Is High Colorectal Cancer Risk?

People at increased or high risk for colorectal cancer include individuals with:

  • A personal history of:
    • Colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Radiation treatment for cancer within the abdominal or pelvic areas
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome

Colon Cancer Screening Recommendations

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk commence regular screenings for colorectal cancer at age 45. Although, other health organizations (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggest that screenings start at 50 years of age.

Regular screenings should be undertaken until the age of 75. After which, screening regimens should be based on an individual’s health, life expectancy, medical history and personal preferences. Screening is only recommended until age 85.

For patients at increased or high risk, screenings may begin before the age of 45 and may be required more often.

At the GastroIntestinal Specialists, we will discuss your medical and family history, and recommend a screening plan that is right for you based on your individual risk.

Types Of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

There are several options available for colorectal cancer screening. The right one for you will depend on your risk level and medical history. Screening test options include:

  • Stool tests
    • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
    • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
    • FIT-DNA test
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: A minimally invasive procedure using a thin tube to check the lower part of the colon
  • Colonoscopy or CT Colonoscopy: Similar to a sigmoidoscopy, this test allows your doctor to check the lining of your entire colon using a thin, flexible tube.

Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

In addition to having recommended screenings, there are plenty of factors you can control to help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Keep red and processed meats to a minimum.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Don’t smoke.

If you experience symptoms (such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements or unexplained weight loss), be sure to see your doctor promptly.

At the GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., we offer cancer screenings in addition to treating multiple conditions and diseases of the GI tract. To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here