Medical researchers and health professionals have gathered new evidence to support ways in which we battle colorectal cancer, the second and third most lethal cancer in men and women across the United States. Colorectal cancer affects the end of the digestive tract and usually develops in patients over 50. However, as rates of colorectal cancer continue to rise among younger adults, experts are now taking a new approach to screening patients.
Individuals at the highest risk of colorectal cancer include Alaskan Natives, African Americans, and people who have a family history of polyps located in either their rectum or colon. Doctors say it is these people, among others, who should be the most concerned about their chances of developing colorectal cancer, and it may be in their best interest to be screened at an earlier age. Other factors that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer are tobacco use, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and obesity.
The best way to combat colorectal cancer is to identify the condition at an early stage to begin treatment. Traditionally, screening methods have involved invasive tests, causing many people to shy away from this important medical procedure. Now there are new ways for doctors to screen their patients, and they recommend starting at age 45 instead of 50.
Using a process of systematic review, researchers analyzed previous studies on colorectal screening strategies to identify the best methods in recent years. They found that routine testing, starting at age 45, had a tremendous effect on diagnosing colorectal disease at an earlier stage. Ideally, patients should receive the following screenings:
- Colonoscopy – once every 10 years
- Virtual colonoscopy – once every 5 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – once every 5 years
- Multitarget stool DNA test – once every 3 years
- Fecal immunochemical test – once per year
- High-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test – once per year
The important difference between these tests is their relative cost and level of invasiveness. Tests like the fecal immunochemical test and the high-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test are designed to be taken at home and returned to the doctor’s office the next day. Some of the tests cost as little as $30, while others cost thousands. Your doctor is familiar with what tests are right for you, and you should discuss the pros and cons of each before undergoing any procedure.
Take Advantage of Testing
Whether or not screening is right for you depends on many factors, such as age, medical history, and conditions that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, with new testing available, doctors are encouraging anyone who is 45 years old or older to visit their physician to have screenings performed for colorectal cancer. The new screening options are effective ways to maximize preventative options if cancer is detected, and the tests’ reduced level of invasiveness should allow more people to be tested than ever before.
Gastro Care is dedicated to providing everyone in need of GI services with the best healthcare possible. With over fifty years of combined experience, Dr. Rieders and Dr. Reddy are prepared to help you stay healthy. Contact Gastro Care Long Island to schedule your potentially life-saving colorectal screening appointment today by calling (516) 265-7049.