ABOUT COLORECTAL CANCER
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death. But it doesn't have to be. If caught early, it is among the most curable cancers.
Colorectal cancer is nearly 100 percent curable when caught early.
You see, colorectal cancer is unique because it usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. These polyps can turn into cancer over time. Screening tests can find polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when the chance for being cured is good.
Getting screened is easier than you might think.
What's more, it provides peace of mind and life-saving information.
If you are 45 years old or older, get screened now. If you think you may be at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about getting screened early.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 45 or older. Other risk factors include having:
Don't wait for symptoms to occur. Your doctor will tell you whether a simple at-home test or a colonoscopy is appropriate. Both are fully or partially covered by most medical insurance plans.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
Getting a lifesaving colorectal cancer screening is simple. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 45–75 using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FIT or iFOBT), FIT-DNA, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography.
- The guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. It is done once a year. For this test, you receive a test kit from your health care provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood.
- The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. It is also done once a year in the same way as a gFOBT.
- The FIT-DNA test (also referred to as the stool DNA test) combines the FIT with a test that detects altered DNA in the stool. For this test, you collect an entire bowel movement and send it to a lab, where it is checked for altered DNA and for the presence of blood. It is done once every three years.
For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.
How often: Every 5 years, or every 10 years with a FIT every year.
This is like 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. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.
How often: Every 10 years (for people who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer).
Preparation and testing take just 24 hours. It's easy and virtually painless. And it could save your life.
- The day before your procedure, you can have a normal breakfast, and clear liquids instead of supper. You will also do the prep work to wash out your colon.
- Most patients drink a laxative solution. Yes, nature will take its course, and you will lose a little sleep.
- During your colonoscopy, an experienced physician will use a thin, long, lighted, flexible tube to view the lining of your colon. Abnormalities and polyps can be identified or removed. The procedure allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems without the need for a major operation.
- The procedure lasts from 30 minutes to an hour. The test itself is easy and virtually painless.
- You will stay in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge. You will need a volunteer to drive you home.
CT Colonoscopy (Virtual Colonoscopy)
Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze.
How often: Every 5 years.
Important cancer screening information for men and women
The following three links provide cancer screening guidelines for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about which screenings are right for you.
Information for Healthcare Professionals
National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable releases new FOBT Clinician’s Reference Resource new 2-page resource designed to introduce (or reintroduce) clinicians to the value of stool blood testing. It explains stool blood testing in general, makes physicians aware of the differences between a guaiac FOBT and a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), explains why different kinds of FOBTs are superior and outlines some of the elements that need to go into a quality stool blood testing screening program.
Colonoscopy Surveillance After Polypectomy and Colorectal Cancer Resection - American Academy of Family Physicians
US Preventative Services Task Force recommendation on colorectal cancer screening
The Community Guide Evidence-Based Interventions for colorectal cancer screening
Why should you get screened for colorectal cancer?
American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Figures 2022. Cancer Facts & Figures 2023
Early detection can save your life.
Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when there is a greater chance that treatment will be most effective and lead to a cure. (3)
1: American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer? http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-key-statistics
2: Cancer Facts and Figures 2023: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2023/2023-cancer-facts-and-figures.pdf
3: Colorectal Cancer Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/prevention.htm
News & Information
GetScreenedSD Colorectal Cancer Screening is reflected in the Office of Health Promotion 2020 Strategic Map - the vision is that all South Dakotans will enjoy healthy lives free from the devastation of chronic diseases.
For more information, please visit the Resources page.