Colon cancer is very treatable, if detected early. Sadly, however, it is expected to kill more than 50,000 people this year, making it the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and in honor of the month, there is now a screening that anyone can get without going to a doctor first. The screening, called a fecal immunochemical (FIT) test, is offered at some medical centers, including one in Medina called Any Lab Test Now, where no appointment is needed.
A FIT test is an at home test that is processed by an accredited lab that tests for blood in the stool.
And there are other options locally, such as those at Fisher-Titus Medical Center.
“While a colonoscopy is the gold standard exam for patients exhibiting symptoms of colorectal cancer, it isn’t the only option for preventive screenings,” Fisher-Titus gastroenterologist Dr. Maher Salam said in a recent article published on the hospital’s website.
“Some patients now have access to computed tomography (CT) colonography, which generates a three-dimensional X-ray of the colon. There is also a home test called Cologuard, which tests the stool for elevated levels of potentially cancerous DNA.”
According to the CDC, screening for colorectal cancer is effective and can save lives, since according to its recent study, one in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 had not been tested. Many either blamed what they must endure for the procedure or the cost of the exam.
The organization recommends adults get tested beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. The CDC also recommends patients over the age of 50 get checked for hidden blood in stool samples every year, a colonoscopy should be done every 10 years. This is especially true if a patient has any colon cancer risk factors, such as obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, heavy alcohol use or eats diet high in red meats and processed meats.
Symptoms of the disease include: visible blood in stool, changes in bowel habits, cramping or abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss and weakness or fatigue.