In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, March's News You Can Use column is focused entirely on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and how you can make your screening safer, more effective, and more comfortable.
Many Americans avoid getting
tested for colorectal cancer and its easily eliminated precursor, precancerous polyps. Yet screening allows abnormalities to be caught early, when they can be treated very successfully.
For a quick summary of CRC screening basics, this fact sheet
from the CDC is excellent.
Advice regarding how, and how often, people should be screened varies slightly among different guidelines. However, the guidelines agree that screening should begin at age 50, unless one has risk factors indicating an earlier start. The recommendations of four organizations are compared in an American Family Physician article
. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guideline
recommends that routine optical screening (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) should be discontinued for many people over 75, and for everyone over 85, as risks begin to outweigh benefits for elders
New technology and research bring new issues to light. The value of computed tomographic colonography (CTC) is not yet resolved
. A recent study
that this "virtual colonoscopy" may eventually be deemed a safe and effective screening tool, even for older patients. Some research
suggests that for women, colonoscopy may be a more effective screening tool than sigmoidoscopy.
When planning a colonoscopy, you may be interested in -
· An online video
about the procedure.
· Tips on
questions to ask your examining physician and on scheduling your exam for optimum results.
· A simple way
to increase your comfort and improve the procedure's effectiveness.
about various bowel purgatives, plus suggestions for more pleasantly and completely clearing your colon.
And finally, you can lower your odds
of ever having colorectal cancer. That's the best news of all!