Colon Cancer Screening Methods—What's Best for You?

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Colorectal cancer (commonly known as colon cancer) is an insidious disease ranking third most common cancer among people in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 140,250 cases of colorectal cancer in 2018 in the U.S.  

These numbers may seem scary, but the situation is far from hopeless. Routine screening can identify colon cancer before it becomes difficult to treat, and sometimes it can even identify abnormal cell growth before cancer is developed. This means that regular screening can potentially prevent cancer from developing or identify it before it becomes difficult to treat.

Despite the tremendous benefits of routine colon cancer screening, only about 62 percent of adults over the age of 50 are screened every year in the U.S. Some people fear the procedure because they have heard horror stories about colonoscopies. Others avoid screening due to worries over cost. Whatever the reason for avoiding screening, the fact remains that routinely screening for colon cancer could save your life.

In the last few years, a new test to screen for colon cancer has come to the market. The Fecal Immunochemical Test, or FIT test, is a revolutionary way to screen and shows high efficacy rates. The advantages of this test over a traditional colonoscopy are that it is completely non-invasive, it is much less costly, and it can be performed in your own home instead of in a doctor’s office.

Although the FIT test has many advantages and is a useful screening tool, it cannot completely replace the colonoscopy. However, most people can have FIT tests and follow up by colonoscopy if the test is positive.

This new method of screening for colon cancer can help people who might not otherwise have been screened to take control of their health. FIT testing is inexpensive (about the same price as five coffees or two movie tickets!), effective, and completely non-invasive.

Anyone who is over the age of 50 with no risk factors – or people of any age who have elevated risk – should talk to their Primary Care Provider about the best screening plan for them. Getting screened is quick, easy and could save your life! Don’t take chances with your health – talk to your provider today.

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Tracy Welker
Population Health "Alum," One Community Health

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