During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, RMH reminds anyone over the age of 50 to schedule a colorectal cancer screening.
Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer
is the second leading killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends a colorectal screening, including colonoscopy, for anyone over the age of 50.
“We say 50 is the magic number
,” said Deborah Kile, manager of the moderate sedation unit at RMH, where colonoscopies are performed. “If everyone 50 years old had a colonoscopy, more than 50 percent of lives lost to colon cancer could be saved.”
During colorectal cancer screenings, polyps and tumors can be discovered early. When polyps are discovered early, Kile said, they can be removed before developing into life-threatening tumors. The CDC recommends the following tests for people 50 and over:
- Fecal occult blood test (every year) — A screening that tests for blood in stool.
- Sigmoidoscopy (every five years) —A physician checks the lower section of the colon and the rectum for polyps using a scope — a thin, hollow, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end — that sends images to a monitor. The doctor can also take biopsies.
- Full colonoscopy (every 10 years) — A physician checks the entire length of the colon and the rectum with a scope. During the procedure, the doctor can also take biopsies.
“Colorectal cancers are generally slow-growing, so the benefit of early detection is huge,” Kile said. “As a result of early screening, detection and treatment, more and more people are surviving colorectal cancer.”
People with several risk factors, including a family history of colorectal cancers, may be screened earlier than age 50 according to the CDC. From more information about colorectal cancer screening, contact your family doctor or call Healthsource at 540-564-7200.