Colorectal Health Important?
Every year, approximately 131,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal
cancer; and about 55,000 die from this disease. A majority of these
cases occur after the age of 50, which is why the American Cancer Society
recommends that men and women at average risk begin regular screening
at age 50. However, anyone with a personal or family history of colorectal
cancer, polyps in the colon or rectum, or ulcerative colitis is at
higher risk for the disease and may need to be examined sooner and
What To Do
When colorectal cancer is detected early, the chances of successful
treatment and cure are greatest. Colorectal cancer can be detected
early and with little discomfort by using a combination of several
The fecal occult blood test is a simple at-home procedure
that checks a stool sample for hidden blood which can be a sign of
cancer, polyps, or other internal disorders.
The digital rectal examination allows a physician to feel
if a tumor is present in the rectum. For men, this exam can also
help detect prostate cancer.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure using a flexible,
hollow, lighted tube that detects cancer or polyps inside the rectum
and lower colon. The sigmoidoscope can view almost half of the
Colonoscopy is a similar procedure, except that the colonoscope
is long enough to view the entire colon.
The double-contrast barium enema is an x-ray examination
that allows a radiologist to view the entire colon.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average
risk begin regular screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. You and
your doctor can choose one of the following three options*
- Beginning at age 50, have a fecal occult blood test and flexible
sigmoidoscopy. Repeat the fecal occult blood test annually and the
sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
- Beginning at age 50, have a colonoscopy at 10-year intervals, or
- Beginning at age 50, have a double-contrast barium enema every
5 to 10 years.
*Your doctor should perform a digital rectal exam at the same time
as sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or double-contrast barium enema.
*American Cancer Society - Colorectal Cancer-Early Detection Saves